CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James received another award and got some time off from his boss.
On Monday, James was named the Eastern Conference’s player of the week for the 52nd time in his career while Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he’s resting the superstar on Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets.
James kept his upcoming schedule a secret following practice when he met with reporters, deferring to Lue, who divulged that he will sit James for the fourth time this season.
The Cavs played Saturday, and after facing the Rockets, they won’t play again until hosting Brooklyn on Thursday. After consulting with Cleveland’s training staff, Lue felt it was an ideal time to give the 31-year-old a break as the Cavs begin gearing up for the playoffs.
“Not too many chances and opportunities to rest one game and have four days off, so I thought it was a good opportunity to rest him,” Lue explained.
Cleveland is 1-2 without James this season.
The Cavs are entering the home stretch of the season — they’ve got nine games left — before they begin a run at their second straight Finals. Cleveland leads Toronto by 2 1-2 games for the best record in the Eastern Conference. And while Lue understands the importance of getting the top seed and the home-court advantage that comes with it, he wants James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to be as fresh as possible before the postseason.
Also, guard Iman Shumpert missed Monday’s practice with a sore left knee. His status for Tuesday’s game won’t be known until the pregame shootaround.
Lue said Tuesday will not be the last time James sits before end of the regular season (April 13, but it’s not clear if the four-time league MVP will rest another game this week. Cleveland visits Atlanta on Friday and hosts Charlotte on Sunday.
For some reason, the Cavs have played well when either Love or Irving sits. With Irving on the bench Saturday, James recorded a triple-double as the Cavs beat the New York Knicks 107-93. Cleveland is 4-0 without Love and the Cavs beat Dallas on March 16 the last time James sat.
“The ultimate is to get us all playing at a high level for our offense and defense,” James said. “It’s no explanation as to sometimes why we play better without one of us, but hopefully we want to get it to a point where all three of us are playing well at the same time, for the betterment of the team.”
Aside from creating some drama with some comments and tweets last week, James was phenomenal, averaging 29 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.8 assists as the Cavs went 3-1. He posted triple-doubles against Denver and New York, giving him three this season and 42 in his career. Only Jason Kidd (107) and Magic Johnson (65) have had more triple-doubles over the past 30 years than James.
There have been 66 triple-doubles across the league this season, the second most in history. There were 78 triple-doubles in 1988-89.
“Obviously, you’ve got to have playmaking skills,” James said when asked about it takes to get a triple-double. “You’ve got to have anticipation on rebounding and you’ve got to be able to put the ball in the bucket. So, that’s three facets of the game that you’ve got to, it’s not even focus on it’s you’re out there playing and that’s the end result of it.”
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