PHOENIX -- LeBron James took part in limited practice Monday in Phoenix and is a game-time decision for the Cavaliers against the Suns on Tuesday.
"I'm a game-time decision as of right now," James said after the Cavs finished up what coach David Blatt called his team's "best practice of the year" at Grand Canyon University. "Hopefully my body reacts really well tomorrow. I'm going to get some treatment. I just got some, I'm going to get some more later on as well as tomorrow and see what happens."
James has been sidelined since Dec. 30 due to strains to his lower back and left knee. The Cavs have struggled in James' absence, going 1-8.
The four-time MVP said the rehabilitation plan has worked for him personally, but has come with the unfortunate side effect of Cleveland losing ground in the Eastern Conference standings.
"For me, but not for the team," James said when asked if the rest has been beneficial. "We struggled. I hate seeing that. I hate seeing us not play to our ability with me sitting out. For me, I benefited. I allowed my body to rest. So, it's give and take."
James was pulled out of some parts of Monday's practice as a precaution, but came away encouraged by the time he did spend on the floor.
"Whatever the coaching staff allowed me to do [I did]," James said. "I got some work in, though. It feels good to get back out there for the time that I was out there. So, it's good to be back out there on the court with the guys a little bit."
After a brief rehabilitation trip in Miami, James joined the Cavs on their road trip that started Friday against the Warriors. Tuesday marks the Cavs' third game of a five-game West Coast swing.
Tuesday will mark two weeks since James sat out to begin what was originally planned as a two-week rehab process.
When asked if James considered cutting the break short to help stop the bleeding, he responded: "No, they wouldn't let me."
"They" is the Cavs medical staff, who will also have a say in James returning against the Suns or not.
"A lot of that is going to have to do with how he feels and how he communicates that to us," Blatt said. "He wants to play, badly. We want him to play, but the overriding goal of this whole process was to bring him back feeling 100 percent, at least from the injury standpoint or from a physical standpoint.
"Now, conditioning-wise, obviously he's not going to be 100 percent. But that's something he'll get with game play. We just want to know from him and with the help of our staff that he's 100 percent physically OK to play. And then we'll go from there."
Whenever James does return, Blatt said he'll be monitoring how many minutes the 12-year veteran plays.
"To a certain extent, yes," Blatt said. "He's obviously not ready to play his normal minutes."
James had been averaging 37.5 minutes per game this season and was acutely aware of the toll all that playing time over the years was taking on his body.
"I got 41,000 minutes in my career including the playoffs," James said shortly before beginning his rest protocol. "You [try to] drive that car in the wintertime [and see how it feels]."
At 19-19, the Cavs had the No. 6 record in the East coming into Monday. There are still 44 games left in the regular season for the Cavs to get things right for the playoffs, but James didn't want to hear any talk about that.
"Playoffs is something we don't need to be thinking about right now," James said. "We're not ready to win a seven-game series and nowhere near ready to even think about the postseason with our struggles as of late. So, we need to get back to our winning ways."
James said the Cavs haven't been able to put together complete games in his absence.
"We've played well at times, but we don't sustain the effort for 48 minutes," James said. "If a team comes out and jumps on us in any quarter, we have a tendency to kind of just -- I don't want to say give up -- but kind of just let our guard down a little bit. We got to sustain the effort on both ends for as close to 48 minutes as possible no matter what's going on in the game."
While James wouldn't put an estimate on how close to 100 percent that he feels, offering, "I feel better than I did two weeks ago," instead, Kevin Love marveled at his teammate's return to the court.
"I thought he looked great," Love said. "It doesn't look like he's missed a step. He looks like he's in great shape. I don't know how that will translate into a game, but [that's] one of the best athletes if not the best athlete in the world there. So we're not too worried about that. ... When we get him back, we're a better team."