LeBron James Still Not Sure About Status for Pacers Rematch

Ethan SkolnickNBA Senior WriterDecember 17, 2013

USA Today

MIAMI — LeBron James wore low-tops Tuesday, and didn't participate in the Miami Heat's practice in preparation for the Indiana Pacers

But he wasn't on crutches, or in obvious pain, either—joking with teammates for several minutes before addressing the media.  

James turned his left ankle in the third quarter of Monday's win against the Jazz, sat out for a spell, tightened his shoe and returned to score nine points in his final four minutes. 

Still, Tuesday he awoke to what he expected.

"Very stiff, very sore," James said. 

So stiff and sore that he acknowledged that, if the Heat had to play that night, he would watch. 

James has sprained this ankle so many times that he believes that he—along with trainer Mike Mancias —can assess whether he's doing more damage.

"Myself and Mike, we've been through this, so we know how to attack it," James said. 

James said he wouldn't allow the opponent to determine his availability. 

"I'm going to sit if I'm not feeling comfortable (Wednesday) night," James said. "It doesn't matter who we are playing. Obviously, if it was a playoff game, I would play. We are a long-term team, and I am a long-term player. I'm going to try my best to police myself on this one." 

If he does play, the Heat could tweak their defensive strategy some. James chased around Paul George throughout the first quarter of the Pacers' 90-84 win in Indianapolis last Tuesday, and it clearly sapped him of some energy, with his own efficiency waning as the night progressed. In prior games, Dwyane Wade picked up more of that responsibility early. 

Still, James was right when he said of George on Tuesday that "he wasn't our biggest problem. We still got to worry about that two-headed monster they've got in David West and Roy Hibbert. Those guys are a huge problem." 

The Pacers, naturally, are looking at this as another huge game, since they are eyeing the East's No. 1 seed. They enter with a two-game lead, and with confidence they are eager to express.  

"Everybody goes about it their own way," Wade said. "We are not the kind of team with the kind of guys who talk about stuff. We just go do it. But, you know, they like to talk. If it works for them, it works for them, man. I don't really lose any sleep over talk. We just go out and play the game. There's no secret about it. They're one of our biggest challenges, there's no secret about it. Hopefully, it comes down to us and them to get to the Finals, and the best team wins."

Hopefully, both teams are at full strength by then.

That may not be the case Wednesday.