CLEVELAND -- LeBron James avoided what could have been a severe season-ending injury when Larry Nance Jr. crashed into his right leg in the fourth quarter of the Cavaliers' 109-99 Game 6 victory over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals Friday.
Nance fell to the floor after contesting a shot by Jayson Tatum, and James had already turned his head toward the other end of the court as he signaled that the possession should belong to Cleveland as the ball went out of bounds, making him unable to avoid the contact.
"I just felt someone fall into my leg, and my leg kind of went in," James said. "I felt some pain throughout my entire right side of my ankle into my leg. I was just hoping for the best, obviously, because I've seen so many different injuries, and watching basketball with that type of injury, someone fall into one's leg standing straight up. Luckily, I was able to finish the game."
While the collision affected James' gait -- he was still walking with a noticeable limp when he left the arena at the end of the night -- his production didn't skip a beat. James stayed in the game after the collision, which came with 8:28 left in the fourth quarter, until he checked out for good with 57 seconds left.
James scored 12 of his 46 points after the contact, going 17-for-33 from the field (5-for-7 from 3), with 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals and a blocked shot in 46 minutes.
"We were short on timeouts, and I was about to take one," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said of the incident. "Bron said, 'No, I'm good.' And then he came and scored right in the same possession. I think he might have just banged his knee, but other than that, he's fine."
James said he didn't even know that it was Nance who had run into him until they were in the locker room after the game.
"Larry asked me if I was OK, so I'm guessing he was the culprit of it," James said.
James was asked how the physical setback compared to when he rolled his ankle in Game 4 of the 2015 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Chicago Bulls and stayed in the game to hit a buzzer-beater to win it.
"Well, I wasn't coming out in either case. Obviously, I would have had to literally have a real, real, really bad injury -- [knocks on table] I don't even know if this is ... that's not even wood; I'll find some on the way out -- to come off the floor with the opportunity we have to be able to force a Game 7," James said.
Sunday's Game 7 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) will mark the 100th game James has played since the start of the 2017-18 regular season, tying for the most games he has ever played in a single regular season plus the playoffs since he played 100 games in 2010-11, which ended in a Game 6 NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
So if James didn't already have his work cut out for him when it comes to rest and recovery heading into Game 7, the right leg injury only makes the treatment that much more vital.
"As soon as I leave here, I'll start to prepare," James said. "I'm going to get in the car and head back to Akron. As soon as I get home, I'll start my treatment. I'll do the same all day [Saturday] from before we leave to go to Boston, and then once we get into Boston, I'll do that as well. Try to get as much sleep as I can with tonight and with tomorrow and even on Sunday before the game. That's the best recovery that you can possibly get is when you're sleeping. It'll be around-the-clock treatment, and we'll see what happens."