May 25, 2016

Partly sunny

James expected back tonight

INDEPENDENCE —LeBron James will be back in action tonight in Phila-delphia, rested and ready to go.

James, who tweaked his ankle a week ago against Detroit, sat out a loss in Milwaukee on Saturday and a home win over San Anto-nio on Monday in order to rest.

The reigning league MVP —and extremely heavy favorite to win the award again this year —will be back in the starting lineup against the 76ers.

“I’ve always been a guy who wants to play every game,” James said Thurs-day following practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “Now looking back on it, it was definitely the right decision to give the injuries I had some rest and take some time and let my body heal. It’s not often you get a week off and only miss two games, so we took advan-tage of it.”

James, who played in every game but the season finale in 2008-09, does not expect to miss a beat be-cause of the time off.

“I’m always high en-ergy,” he said. “I’m in shape. It’s not like I was out a week and lost any rhythm.

“At this point in the sea-son, there’s no way you can get (aches and pains) fully away, but I rejuvenated a lot.”

The 25-year-old spent his time off watching just about every NBA game possible on a bank of televisions he has set up in the basement of his Akron-area home, but did not fight the decision of coach Mike Brown and team doctors to sit out the last two contests.

“I’m not a fighter,” James joked. “I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

While James will be back tonight, Brown said there’s “a real good chance” power forward Antawn Jamison, who has some stiffness in his left knee, will not play against the Sixers.

If that’s the case, Leon Powe or even Darnell Jackson will start tonight, because Brown wants to bring Anderson Varejao off the bench.

The Cavaliers will also be without center Shaquille O’Neal, who is expected to miss the rest of the regular season and possibly the first round of the playoffs with a thumb injury.

Brown said he had not spoken to the 38-year-old since Cleveland played in New Jersey on March 3, but added that general manager Danny Ferry has talked with O’Neal and worked out a timetable for when the veteran center will rejoin the team.

“Whatever they worked out, I’m good with,” Brown said.

Despite the Cavaliers’ in-jury woes, their 50-15 record remains the best in the league, which would give them home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Cleveland is also the only team in the league to have already clinched a playoff berth.

“We haven’t been injury-free in a long while, but we’re playing at a high level right now,” James said. “That’s good.”

What’s not good for James, who said he could have played in the last two games if it had been the playoffs, is watching his team lose from the sideline.

“It’s harder for me when your team loses a ball-game,” he said. “Especially in that Milwaukee loss, it was hard for me to sit out knowing I could have helped.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.