MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James was back in Miami. He just wasn't back in uniform.
James and Kyrie Irving were held out of Cleveland's game in Miami on Saturday night, getting the matchup off for rest. James played 39 minutes in Cleveland's victory at Atlanta on Friday night, Irving played 35 and Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said the decision to sit the two All-Stars was made after that game.
The decision on James was made in part after consulting with his longtime athletic trainer Mike Mancias. James is averaging nearly 38 minutes per game this season, and with the Cavaliers now less than two months away from the postseason — where James will try to reach the NBA Finals for a seventh straight year — Lue said Saturday's game won't be the last time he's asked to sit down the stretch.
"He understands the big picture and what we're trying to accomplish," Lue said. "The guy's played so many minutes over the course of his career, and going to six straight Finals he has to take some rest at times."
It's the second time James has missed a game in Miami since he left the Heat to return to the Cavaliers in 2014. The teams play again in Cleveland on Monday night.
Lue went with Deron Williams starting in Irving's place, alongside Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson and James Jones.
With Kevin Love also out while recovering from knee surgery, this marks the second time this season that Cleveland will be without any of its Big Three — the other of those being a loss at Memphis. The Cavaliers also entered Saturday 0-4 in games where James doesn't play this season.