Cleveland earned the “W” in the BMO Harris Bradley Center just the night before, taking the contest 114-108 in overtime. The game was won without star power forward Kevin Love, resulting in the Cavs being led on both ends of the floor by Kyrie Irving and LeBron James.
Irving and James combined for 62 of the Cavaliers’ 114 total points, but also led the Cavaliers in a bit of a worrying stat. Irving logged 45 minutes, while James led the Cavs with 47 minutes in the overtime bid.
While preparing for the second game in as many nights, resting his two stars must have gone through coach Tyronn Lue‘s mind. But with news he’d be without Love again, and the addition of J.R. Smith to the injury report, Lue decided to trust his players and let them suit up.
“Just to prove that we’re at a different level,” Irving told cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor. “I’m pretty sure he wanted to sit us. But tonight it was just going against a great Bucks team. It’s really just the competition at a high level. It was just another personal game of wanting to be out there and just competing.”
LeBron James currently sits third among the NBA in minutes per game with 37.2 per contest. The only two players to surpass him are Zach LaVine and Anthony Davis, both of whom are substantially younger. The topic of James’ minutes has been in many conversations recently, but Lue has full trust in LeBron James and how far he thinks he can push himself.
“He knows his body better than anyone,” Lue told Cleveland.com. “Him and Mike Mancias, that’s the plan that they want. He’s been doing this for a long time, says he feels great and nights he doesn’t feel great he won’t play. He wants around 38 or 39 minutes per night and then he said end of January or early February we will tailor him down and scale him back so as of right now that’s the plan.”
The fact of the matter is, Cleveland has only played 27 of their 82 regular season games. There will be plenty of time for James to rest those soon-to-be 32-year-old legs for the inevitable playoff run.