INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) -LeBron James didn't practice for the second straight day in order to rest his troublesome back before the Cleveland Cavaliers begin their final push heading into the NBA playoffs.
James, who has been dealing with back spasms for a few weeks, received treatment while his teammates prepared for Wednesday night's game against the New Jersey Nets. Cavs coach Mike Brown said Tuesday it's possible James could sit out.
``I know he wants to play,'' Brown said. ``But we have to be cautious with him now.''
James was not available for interviews. He was still on the massage table when the club wrapped up its post-practice media session.
``We want him healthy in the playoffs,'' Brown said. ``Yes, we want the fourth seed, but to get the fourth seed and have an unhealthy LeBron throughout the playoff run wouldn't do us any good. We've got to make sure that he's healthy and he's able to help us.''
With five regular-season games left, the Cavaliers are trying to wrap up the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They have a two-game lead over Washington for that fourth spot.
Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas also has missed playing time with a bad back. He was asked if he would rather see James sit out a few games at the expense of a higher playoff seed for the Cavs, who because of injuries, haven't been able to gel since getting four new players in a Feb. 21 trade.
``It's a Catch-22,'' he said. ``We all realize how valuable he is to us. But without him being healthy, we stand no chance going into the playoffs. We also want to get the fourth spot and home-court advantage, and we also want him in there just for chemistry reasons.
``He's such a good player and we rely on him so much, and a lot of the guys who just got here haven't played with him that much. He has to know where they're going to be on the floor when he gets double-teams and triple-teams.''
James' back problems flared up in the fourth quarter of Cleveland's last two games, home losses to Chicago and Orlando. In those games, James was unable to drive to the basket in the fourth quarter and no one stepped up for the Cavs.
Ilgauskas said it was obvious James was hurting.
``He always has a smile on his face and he's always loud. But I've just noticed that he's been quiet and I can see that it has been bothering him,'' he said. ``He hasn't said anything, but from being around him for all these years, I can tell when something bothers him.''
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