Will he play, or won’t he?
That’s the question the Miami Heat are facing as they get ready for the second of four meetings with Eastern Conference leader Indiana after star LeBron James missed Tuesday’s workout because of a sore ankle.
James sprained his ankle in the third quarter of Monday night’s 117-94 win over the Utah Jazz. He returned to the game in the fourth quarter, but woke up the next morning with it too sore for him to practice.
Though he is expected to play when the Heat host the Pacers in Wednesday’s nationally televised affair (ESPN. 7 p.m. ET), his status is considered day-to-day.
“Lots of treatment, lots of rest and we’ll see how he feels,” was Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s response to media when asked about the issue.
James has played through ankle problems in the past and isn’t one to let aches and pains keep him on the bench. Despite a sore back, he is one of two Heat players who have appeared in all 24 games this season, the other being guard Norris Cole.
No doubt, James will have some motivation against to step up against the Pacers, who saw their lead over the Heat cut to two games with their Monday night loss home to Detroit.
The Pacers beat the Heat 90-84 last week in Indianapolis in their first meeting since last season’s conference finals won by Miami in seven games.
Afterward, Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz wrote that though it was too early to declare the result a “statement win” for Indiana, he did write that for now the Pacers “rule the roost and remain the very best team in the entire NBA.”
They were 19-3 after that win, but after their first loss at home this season, they are 20-4 to the Heat’s 18-6.
Though just over a quarter of the regular season has been played, the rematch of Heat-Pacers does carry a little more weight than the usual one-game-of-82 approach. Thus it would be surprising if James isn’t in the lineup.
Consider this comment from his teammate Chris Bosh, as reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
“He’s going to play,” Bosh said. “He’s just fooling everybody. He’ll be fine.”