INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- LeBron James knows he's in for a painful playoff run.
Chasing an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers at less than 100 percent, the two-time league MVP said Thursday that his injured right elbow -- now with its own Twitter page -- feels better but it won't be completely healed until he rests it after the season.
James has accepted his fate.
"I've got to play with it," he said.
James made it through a complete practice Thursday without his elbow "flaring up" as the Cavaliers got in a final workout before heading to Boston for Game 3 on Friday night. After the Celtics' win in Game 2 on Monday evened the series, James spent the past few days icing his elbow and undergoing electrical stimulus treatments.
A scheduled second MRI has been canceled, but James said doctors have told him his injury, diagnosed as a sprain and bone bruise, isn't going away anytime soon.
"It could be a recurring thing through the whole playoffs," he said. "If we continue to win and continue to be in the playoffs it could be a recurrence, and it may not be better until the offseason."
Wearing a short, black sleeve over his elbow, James shot jumpers from all over the floor during the portion of practice open to the media. He even launched a few long 3-pointers before leaving the gym.
Dealing with the physical part is only one aspect of his injury. For James, trying to block out the pain and still perform at a high level has been a challenge. He'd like to ignore it, but that's not possible when he feels a twinge in the elbow or when the joint locks up.
"If it's hurting throughout the game, there is no way it can stay off your mind," he said. "You want to be conscious about it, but at the same time I need to find a way to help the team no matter if it's hurting or not. There is no way you can not think about it."
James' elbow has been the talk of Cleveland. The city's fragile fans, who always expect the worst, are concerned the Cavaliers have been struck by the same curse that has bedeviled the Indians and Browns, leading to a 46-year championship drought.
The injury's timing is unfortunate, but there isn't anything James -- or anyone else -- can do.
Since the Cavs were eliminated in last year's Eastern Conference finals by Orlando, James has been on a mission to end his seventh pro season by hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
This isn't an obstacle he could have planned for.
"It sucks," he said. "For the most part all season I was healthy and if I had to play all 82 games, I would have. To have an injury at this point in the season where it may slow you up a little bit, it sucks. But it's a part of the game. Nobody feels sorry for me or for our team and we move on."
James is averaging 29.5 points in the first two games, but his passiveness in Game 2 was alarming for the superstar. He has attempted just five outside shots in the opening halves, and when he's had breakaways he has delivered soft, two-handed dunks instead of his normal, signature windmills.
"You want to be smart about things," he said. "I don't want to go up there doing all that crazy dunking where I might aggravate my elbow. Two points is two points."
However, James knows he has to be more assertive. The Cavs can't wait for him to take over a game, and he can't wait for help.
"We all need to come out more aggressive, not only myself," he said. "I can't go a whole first half and take only five shot attempts. I definitely have to be more aggressive in trying to get more shot attempts up. As a team we have to do the same thing, when we get good looks, we have to take them and knock them down."
Center Shaquille O'Neal needs to get going.
He has struggled so far in the series, shooting just 36 percent (8 of 22). The Cavs were counting on Shaq to draw attention down low, bringing in double- and triple-teams and opening up Cleveland's outside game. That hasn't happened, and until the Big Diesel shows up, the Celtics can gear their defense around stopping James.
O'Neal understands what James is going through. The 15-time All-Star has played with his share of injuries through the years and knows how tough it can be to block one out.
"It's very difficult. But he's a warrior," O'Neal said. "He hasn't really mentioned much about it. He hasn't really talked about it. He's going to play through it and he's not going to make any excuses. His elbow has nothing to do with our team defense. Everyone has to do their part.
"I still see the greatest player in the game but we, as the others, have to help him out."
James is amused by all the interest in his elbow.
There have been conflicting reports about his injury as well as the number of tests he has undergone. A satirical Twitter page has popped up, written from the perspective of his elbow.
James, who said he isn't following his elbow on Twitter, confirmed he has had only one MRI.
"According to the TV I've had about 50. 'LeBron has another MRI today scheduled, he has another one when he gets to Boston," he said, playfully mocking the reports. "I've only had one, and I've only needed one."
The Cavaliers hope it stays just one.