James Rests Back as Cavs Prepare for Playoffs
Posted Apr 7 2008 6:08PM
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, April 7 (AP) -- While his teammates practiced their free throws, LeBron James worked on a trick shot where he stands under the basket and heaves a ball off a nearby wall, trying to ricochet it back through the hoop.
He hasn't made one yet.
"I'm working on it,'' he said.
He's got time to.
James was held out of Cleveland's practice on Monday to rest his back, which has been tightening up and bothering the Cavaliers' All-Star forward for the past few weeks. His back spasms got so severe during a recent game against Chicago that James was unable to sit in a chair during timeouts.
James' injury - the latest back issue for a Cleveland player - has worsened at an inopportune time for the Cavs, who are still trying to lock down the No. 4 seed in the NBA playoffs and home-court advantage in the first round. With five games remaining, Cleveland, which has dropped five of seven, enters the week with a two-game lead over Washington and a three-game cushion over Philadelphia for the fourth spot.
The Cavaliers, who don't play again until Wednesday against New Jersey, are hoping the rest will help James for the stretch run.
As coach Mike Brown put his team through a workout, James received treatment on his back. Later, though, he came out on the floor and practiced a few shots.
"I told him just to watch TV,'' Brown said, looking in the direction of his superstar.
James was asked if back spasms were his only problem.
"That,'' he said, "and tightness and some stuff that shouldn't be going on right now.''
Although it had been troubling him for a few weeks, James didn't reveal the extent of his injury until following last Thursday's home loss to the Bulls. The Cavaliers blew a 17-point lead in the second half, and with James unable to slash to the basket the way he can when healthy, Cleveland couldn't come back. James, who leads the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring, missed all five field-goal tries in the final period.
Then, in another loss on Saturday against Orlando, he didn't drive to the basket in the fourth quarter and said afterward that his back was locking up again.
James doesn't want to miss any games and is counting on the rest to get him up to speed.
"One day helps,'' he said. "But it's something where you need a little more than one day.''
Those injuries combined with contract holdouts by Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic as well as a colossal trade that hasn't exactly fixed things for Cleveland, has made it seem like this season wasn't meant to be for the Cavs.
"I know every team has injuries, but no team has had the injuries that we've had this year,'' James said. "We don't want to be an excuse team, because we've never been that.''
James feels it's important for the Cavaliers to finish strong. There's still enough time for them to get on a roll before the playoffs.
" We can play better basketball,'' he said. "We have to. We need some kind of momentum going into the postseason. Last year, we won four straight games that we needed to win going into the postseason. You have to have some kind of confidence going into the postseason.''
On a far lighter note, James laughed when he was asked if he got a toaster for good friend, rap mogul Jay-Z, who reportedly married pop superstar Beyonce last week.
"No,'' James said. "I'll wait until I see him in person and then I'll give him what I got for him.''
As James left the floor at the Cavs' training facility, a production crew hauled in cameras and other gear to film a commercial with him.
In such a fragile state, it's safe to assume his body double was needed more than ever.
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