CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers played their preseason finale Monday without LeBron James in the lineup. However, Cavs coach David Blatt was sure his team’s star would be on the court when the regular season tips off.
“I would say he will absolutely be ready for the season opener,” Blatt said of Cleveland’s game in Chicago on Oct. 27. “Absolutely.”
James, who turns 31 in December, played in only two of the Cavs’ seven-game preseason schedule, averaging 11.0 points, 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals in 24.1 minutes per game while shooting 32.1 percent from the field.
The 13-year veteran missed the Cavs’ final three preseason games after receiving an anti-inflammatory injection in his back last week.
Blatt said James worked out Monday prior to the game against the Dallas Mavericks, but the coach deemed it unnecessary to have James play in the game. The team was weighing the benefit of having James play a preseason game with Kevin Love, who made his preseason debut Sunday after sitting out the first five exhibition games as he continued to rehab his surgically repaired left shoulder, but ultimately decided against it.
The Cavs will have a full week off to practice between the preseason finale and regular-season opener, and James is expected to be available for all of it as the team will look to get some reps with James and Love sharing the court in scrimmages.
While James is coming off five straight trips to the NBA Finals and has played the most minutes of any player in the past five seasons by a wide margin, Blatt said his four-time MVP still has youth on his side.
“I would hesitate to put Bron in the category of an advanced-age player,” Blatt said. “He’s not. He is in terms of the number of games he’s played or given the fact that he’s constantly deep into the playoffs and his greatness helps his team achieve those levels.
“But LeBron’s in pretty good shape and he’s done pretty well so far, and we will of course constantly consider what his physical state is,” Blatt said. “But I don’t think we have to go overboard. I mean, that guy is a great, great basketball player, and he’s also proved to be durable and ready to play.”
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