"We're going to hold LeBron out this evening," Cavaliers coach David Blatt said before the game. "It was a tough game [Friday] night --  minutes, very short turnaround ... Just thinking long term here, being conscious of taking care of him and taking care of the team going forward."
James tied his season high by playing 45 minutes in the Cavs' 114-108 overtime loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans on Friday. Compounding the heavy workload, the team flew from New Orleans to Miami after the game and did not settle into its hotel until just before 5 a.m. on Saturday morning, according to Blatt.
The decision to rest James put an end to the four-time MVP's stated goal of playing all 82 games this season, something he has yet to accomplish in his 13-year career.
"It was me," Blatt said of the decision. "He wanted to play. No question."
When a reporter asked if James was disappointed with the coach's decision, Blatt replied, "I think yes, honestly. But that's one of those things that I sort of had to force the issue on that just because of what I told you before [about maintaining James' body for the season]."
James has enjoyed a stellar season so far, averaging 26.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.3 steals while playing in 19 of 20 games en route to the Cavs' 13-7 start.
Blatt said James did not sit out because of a specific ailment.
"Like everyone else, he was a little sore," Blatt said. "That was a tough game [against New Orleans], but no physical problem. No injury or something like that."
Blatt said Saturday was not a preplanned date to have James rest. It was purely circumstantial based on how the Pelicans game went.
He also said the fact the game was against the Heat was not something he discussed with James, but he figured that factored into his star's disappointment over not playing.
"It was something that certainly was on my mind because I know that this is a special place for Bron, and the people here want to see him and I totally understand that," Blatt said. "I understand that aspect of it, but under the circumstances, I got to think about him first and about the team going forward."
Now that James' 82-game goal is off the table, Blatt allowed for the possibility of James sitting out in future back-to-back situations this season.
"We want him to play as much as he can and as much as is manageable," Blatt said. "He's in good shape and he came into this season in great shape. Again, we'll be monitoring and we'll be keeping a close eye on how the best way to go through the season is with him."
Richard Jefferson started at small forward in James' place and scored a team-high 16 points in 38 minutes.