LeBron James sat out a portion of the Miami Heat’s practice Wednesday as he continues to recover from a thigh bruise he sustained in Game 4 of his team’s first-round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats.
James was hurt when Bobcats center Bismack Biyombo’s knee banged into the lower thigh area just above James’ right knee during the third quarter of Monday’s 109-98 victory in Charlotte. James remained in the game, but limped through the third and fourth quarters. He finished with 31 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in 43 minutes.
The injury isn’t considered serious, but the Heat want to use an extended stretch of time off to rest James. Miami was the only team in the playoffs to earn a first-round sweep, and will have at least five days to regroup before starting its next series against either Toronto or Brooklyn.
“The thigh has been better,” James said after Wednesday’s light workout. “Obviously, I’m very fortunate and happy that we were able to take care of business on Monday. And I get this week to get it back to where it was before Game 4 started.”
James said he is taking gradual steps to treat the soreness. During the Heat’s day off Tuesday, he received extensive treatment and went through stretching routines. He was limited at Wednesday’s practice to riding a stationary bike and shooting free throws during the team’s hour-long session.
“He’s durable, but we don’t take that for granted,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James. “He’s not superhuman as much as we think he is. He plays a physical brand of basketball. He’s aggressive (and) he will attack.”
For now, James is afforded a few days of rest and recovery.
The Heat will have another day off Thursday, with several team members scheduled to travel to Naples to attend memorial services for Hall of Fame coach and former broadcaster Dr. Jack Ramsay. Then it’s back to work Friday, with James hoping to participate in a planned training camp style scrimmage.
“I just want to get this (bruise) as calm as I can,” said James, who averaged 30 points, eight rebounds, six assists and 2.3 steals in the four games against Charlotte. “We’ll have a conditioning day (Thursday), and we’re going to go live on Friday. How much I go live on Friday is to be seen. But I have a couple of days.”
Technically, Dwyane Wade isn’t on a minutes restriction during the playoffs. But Spoelstra acknowledged that he’s still not quite pushing the Heat’s second-leading scorer for 40 or so minutes.
After playing no more than 24 minutes in his final three games of the regular season following a lengthy absence with a strained hamstring, Wade averaged 33 minutes a game in the first-round playoff series. Wade said there was only one time during the four games against the Bobcats when he asked to come out for rest because of conditioning or fatigue.
Wade, who shot 49.1 percent from the field and averaged 17.5 points, 3.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds, said he remains a work in progress as he tries to regain some rhythm after missing 28 regular season games. But he also believes his overall performance in the first round of the playoffs was a positive step.
His challenge this week is to continue to move forward with his conditioning, which includes a significant focus on strengthening his knees and managing soreness he’s dealt with since last season’s playoff run. Wade said he’s less concerned about the threat of a lengthy layoff knocking him off his game.
“If you have any bumps, bruises, you want to get that under control, but you also want to get your work in,” Wade said. “It’s not going to be perfect either way. We did what we were supposed to do and we took care of business. We won four (straight) games for a reason -- to be able to have this opportunity to not only rest but to get some work in behind the scenes. So it’s got to be a good mixture of both.”
James (thigh contusion) and point guard Mario Chalmers (shin contusion) are dealing with nagging injuries, but the Heat expect to have their full roster available for the start of the second round.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Heat will have to deal with reunion storylines regardless of which team they face in the next round of the playoffs. If it’s Brooklyn, Heat guard Ray Allen will face former Boston teammates Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. If Toronto advances, Heat center Chris Bosh gets reacquainted with the franchise he departed as a free agent after seven years in 2010 to join Miami.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It’s complicated. It’s easy for everyone to say we’re going to boycott. But when it comes down to it, we all want to play basketball. We don’t want to give anybody power over us like that; to where we’re not going to play the game we love and fans can’t get the game they love. It’s the playoffs.”
– Chris Bosh, on if players would have followed through on game boycotts in protest of the Donald Sterling controversy.