The Cleveland Cavaliers announced superstar forward LeBron James will play in Tuesday night's season-opening home game against the Boston Celtics at Quicken Loans Arena after he battled an ankle injury during the preseason, according to The Athletic's Jason Lloyd.
James originally hurt his ankle during a practice in late September. The 13-time All-Star missed several practices and the Cavs' annual Wine & Gold Scrimmage to rehab.
The 32-year-old Ohio native returned to action for an exhibition contest against the Chicago Bulls last Tuesday. He recorded 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and eight turnovers across 30 minutes, but he also tweaked the ankle and missed the team's preseason finale against the Orlando Magic on Friday.
Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue previously said he thought James would be available to open the 2017-18 campaign, but he added the organization wasn't planning to force the issue, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
"Wait and see," he said. "I think he'll be OK, though. That would be a tough one for him personally to miss. There's a lot of hype behind the game but like I told him, we got to be smart about it. It's just one game, but I think he’ll be OK."
Meanwhile, the league's four-time MVP posted a message on Twitter Monday night about hoping he'd be ready to play alongside Dwyane Wade against the Celtics.
"Hopefully I can be ready to get it going tomorrow night," James said. "So excited to have one of the greatest guys on and off the court with us."
James averaged 26.4 points, 8.7 assists, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals while shooting 54.8 percent from the field last season. He appeared in 74 of the Cavs' 82 games during the regular season en route to finishing fourth in MVP voting.
Stephen Campbell of OddsShark noted James enters the new season as the slight MVP favorite at 4-1 odds followed by San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (9-2), Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (5-1) and reigning winner Russell Westbrook (6-1) of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Ultimately, it comes as no surprise James will suit up Tuesday night. Not only is it the first game of the season, but facing a Celtics squad that now features former teammate Kyrie Irving in a battle of top contenders in the Eastern Conference is a chance for LeBron to make an early statement.
The Cavaliers will hope the ankle problem doesn't linger through the season, though. The coaching staff may opt to give him a couple extra games of rest during the first few months to ensure there aren't any further setbacks since Cleveland should cruise to a high playoff seed anyway.