CLEVELAND ‚Ä" LeBron James said he is going to play in the season finale Wednesday against the New York Knicks Bobby Hebert Jersey , which means for the first time in his career he will appear in all 82 regular-season games.
As for the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers, well, that‚Äôs up to coach Tyronn Lue.
The Cavs (50-31) who host the Knicks after beating them on Monday 123-109, are playing for a shot at third place in the East.
The Philadelphia 76ers won their 15th straight game by beating Atlanta on Tuesday, and the Sixers hold a one-game lead over the Cavs for third in the East. For the Cavs to nab the No. 3 seed heading into the playoffs, they need to beat the Knicks while the Milwaukee Bucks beat Philadelphia.
If that happens, the 76ers and Cavs would finish with the same record, but Cleveland holds the tiebreaker against Philadelphia.
What Lue must decide is whether he wants to play all of his rotation players together for the first time this season, on the last day he can before the playoffs start, or just make sure the team is as healthy as it can be.
If the Cavs finish fourth, which is where they sit now, they would host Indiana in a first-round series for a second consecutive season.
‚ÄúI think the most important thing is just making sure everyone is healthy,‚ÄĚ Lue said. ‚ÄúI know guys are trying to be tough and tough it out but that‚Äôs not smart right now. We‚Äôve got to be smart going into the playoffs, make sure we‚Äôre as close to 100 percent healthy as we can be.‚ÄĚ
Then again, as long as James is playing, the Cavs have a chance in any game. James Chuck Foreman Jersey , 33, declared he would play in the finale because he is ‚Äúhealthy.‚ÄĚ Not only will he play in all 82 for the first time in his storied career, but he will lead the NBA in total points for the first time, too.
With Monday‚Äôs win, James became the first player in NBA history to be on a team that won its division in 10 consecutive seasons. The Cavs clinched the Central Division by beating the Knicks.
‚ÄúThroughout a long season if you‚Äôre able to accomplish feats, no matter what‚Äôs going on, you should always try to appreciate it, try to take time,‚ÄĚ said James, who scored 26 points with 11 assists Monday. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm kind of like been a hypocrite of that because I‚Äôm always moving and trying to figure how we can be better the next day or whatever the case (might) be. So, it‚Äôs always hard for me to be like, ‚ÄėOK, another division crown.‚Äô Even after all that‚Äôs gone on with our team and our ballclub this year, but it‚Äôs a pretty cool thing.‚ÄĚ
James tied the Cavs‚Äô franchise season record for double doubles (52 ‚Ä" Brad Daugherty), and can set the record Wednesday. Also, don‚Äôt get any ideas about James playing only a few minutes Wednesday to say he appeared in his 82nd game ‚Ä" he has his NBA record of 872 consecutive games with at least 10 points to protect.
As previously mentioned Roger Lewis Jersey , the Cavs have yet to play a game with their current, full complement of players. If Rodney Hood returns from a sore Achilles and George Hill, Kyle Korver, and Jose Calderon are all allowed to play (they all suited up against the Knicks but continue to nurse minor injuries), Wednesday would be a first.
The best thing the Knicks have going for them now is rookie Frank Ntilikina, who scored a career-high 17 points to go with six rebounds and five assists Monday. Before Monday‚Äôs game, James said Ntilikina was ‚Äúa very cerebral basketball player.
‚ÄúI think defensively he‚Äôs more advanced than offensively but I think he‚Äôs getting better and better offensively as he‚Äôs gotten more opportunity and played more games.‚ÄĚ
Ntilikina told the New York Post: ‚ÄúI‚Äôm thankful for (James‚Äô words) coming from the top player in this league.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAs a kid, I didn‚Äôt know I‚Äôd be here and able to compete against these guys,‚ÄĚ said Ntilikina, who was drafted eighth overall last June.
New York (28-53) has lost six of its last seven and is tied with Brooklyn for the eighth-worst record (remember, the Cavs own the Nets‚Äô first-round pick). The Knicks have lost 50 or more games four years in a row and haven‚Äôt been to the playoffs since 2013.
This could be coach Jeff Hornacek‚Äôs last game with the Knicks. New team president Steve Mills may want to hire his own coach; Hornacek was hired by Phil Jackson. Hornacek is 59-104 in two seasons in New York.
‚ÄúOur guys didn‚Äôt quit,‚ÄĚ Hornacek said, according to the Post. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think we‚Äôre that far off.‚ÄĚ
Though Eric Wood can finally say he's retired, the now-former Buffalo Bills center is unaccustomed to discussing his career in the past tense. On Monday, for example, Wood was still referring to this spring as "the offseason Kenny Stabler Jersey ," while attending Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly's charitable foundation golf tournament outside of Buffalo.
"It's so funny. I find myself referring to it as the offseason and we're making travel plans that aren't slotted for just the five weeks off in the summer," Wood said, referring to the break players traditionally get between the final spring practice and the start of training camp.
"It's different for sure," he added, while discussing his retirement for the first time since being diagnosed with a career-ending neck injury in January.
"I feel great," Wood said, noting he's already dropped about 55 pounds from his 310-pound playing weight.
"The body feels good. Can't play ball, which stinks. And I miss it," he added. "There's been a lot of times this spring where I've seen pictures posted and you think, 'Well, that's my team.'
"But, it's all good."
Wood never envisioned his playing days would end so abruptly nine seasons into his NFL career, and after signing a two-year contract extension last summer.
Instead, team doctors ruled he would never be allowed to play again after end-of-season tests revealed Wood had two disks being dangerously close to his spinal cord. Wood received the news while he was in the delivery room with his wife, and about an hour before the birth of his second child, a son.
"It was shocking Garry Gilliam Jersey ," he said, noting his first reaction was to seek a second opinion. "But ultimately there was no scenario for return to play."
Wood revealed the severity of the injury during a news conference in January. He was not, however, allowed to say he was officially retiring due to contractual issues that could have prevented Wood from retaining his bonus money until the Bills finally released the 32-year-old on Thursday.
He hasn't yet laid out any future plans, though Wood will always be a Bills fan after being selected by Buffalo in the first round of the 2009 draft out of Louisville.
Wood is following the team online and in social media. He laughed over the uproar on Twitter amid reports rookie first-round draft pick Josh Allen threw an interception during practice last week.
A respected team leader, one thing Wood will miss is mentoring younger players.
He also expressed concern regarding good friend and former teammate Richie Incognito, who has had a tumultuous offseason. Incognito abruptly retired by posting a note on Twitter before the Bills granted his request to be released to potentially sign with another team weeks later.
Then, Incognito spent three days in a Florida mental hospital after he allegedly threw weights and tennis balls at gym employees and another patron and told police officers the government was spying on him two weeks ago.
"He's going through a tough time right now," Wood said. "We're praying for him, and I know he'll come out of this a good man."
On the bright side, Wood has come to terms with how his career ended and the consolation that it happened after a season in which the Bills snapped a 17-year playoff drought. His final game was a 10-3 loss to Jacksonville in an AFC wild-card playoff on Jan. 7.
"Yeah, that playoff berth was very sweet," Wood said. "It would've been very tough my career ending and not ever making the playoffs up here."