UPDATE: Saturday, December 8 at 8:25 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Relax, Heat fans. According to South Florida Sun Sentinel reporter Ira Winderman, James has returned to the game:
LeBron about to check back in, after apparent early groin concern.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) December 9, 2012
---End of Update---
ESPN's Tom Haberstroh had the news:
LeBron pulls his groin on defense after sliding on the court. Out of the game.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) December 9, 2012
Haberstroh followed up with this:
Correction: LeBron hurt himself trying to post up. He's on the bench now, not being looked at by the trainer, FWIW.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) December 9, 2012
James had six points and three assists in 10 minutes before leaving the game. With him out of the lineup, guys like Mike Miller, James Jones, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis will have to carry more playing time.
Without James, Miami will likely struggle. The team is talented otherwise, but he's the best basketball player in the world.
Losing James would impact Miami in a big way on both ends of the floor. Not only is he the team’s leading scorer, but he also leads the Heat in rebounds and assists. He has a hand in every offensive possession, either directly or as a facilitator for someone else.
Defensively, James is also one, if not, the best defenders on the squad. He can lock down multiple positions, and he chases down plays in transition better than anyone in the NBA.
Miami is more equipped to lose James this season, but any sort of injury would still be crippling for this team. Bench players can’t do everything that he can, plus, it would be an emotional blow to the squad as well.
It’s hard to tell how serious this injury is, but the lack of attention being paid to him by the trainers is a good sign. James is tough, and extremely competitive as well, so you know it’s going to take something at least somewhat serious to keep him off the court for any period of time.
Miami had lost two games in a row entering Saturday night’s action, so it hasn’t been completely dominant this season. It’s necessary for James to be out there, allowing this team to continue growing together in its quest for another NBA Championship.
Stay tuned for updates.