Heat forward LeBron James received treatment for a knee contusion on Thursday and did not practice.
James injured his knee in the second quarter on Wednesday during the Heat’s overtime victory against the Mavericks. He finished the game despite the pain and scored 32 points to go along with 12 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and a block.
Bruised knee or not, James needed a day off. Wednesday was the Heat’s second overtime victory in consecutive games. James played 48 minutes in the Heat’s win against Orlando on Monday and logged 42 minutes against the Mavericks.
While he didn’t practice with the team, James did speak with reporters, a sign that he’ll likely play Friday against the Bulls. When asked if he expects to play, James said, “A lot of treatment [Thursday] and hopefully I’ll feel a lot better [Friday].”
James has scored at least 20 points in each of the Heat’s first 30 games of the season. It’s the longest streak of 20-plus points to begin a season in his career.
“I’ve done it without even really caring about it or worrying about it,” James said. “I just go out and take what the defense gives me and play basketball. I’m not going into each and every game thinking, ‘I’ve got to get my 20 to keep this streak alive.’
“I don’t really care about it. If it goes away one day, which it will, I won’t be down about it. Hopefully, if it happens, it happens in a win. If it happens in a loss, I’m going to be pretty upset.”
James is averaging 26.5 points per game and shooting .544 from the field (a career high). Currently ranked fourth in the league in scoring behind Kobe Bryant (30.3 points per game), Carmelo Anthony (29.2) and Kevin Durant (28.4), James trails only Bryant in average number of field goals per game (10.4 to 10.2).
“I’m playing good basketball,” James said. “Am I at my highest peak? I don’t know. I don’t know if I can continue to improve. I want to. I’m going to study the game; I’m going to continue to not take anything for granted and work on my game each and every day in some way, shape or form.”
James is averaging 8.6 rebounds per game (a career high) and 7.1 assists per game. His career high in assists per game for a season is 7.2.
“The consistency is a true mark of greatest in any field in any profession,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s sustained consistency at a high level, and LeBron has proven that every year, but what he’s also proving is he’s raising that bar each year. I don’t think anyone is putting a ceiling on him because he’s not.”
James wasn’t the only player who rested his legs Wednesday. The team had “more of a mental day” of practice, according to Spoelstra.
“We want to continue to take care of our business at home in this three-game homestand before we head out,” Spoelstra said.
Rebounding remains a key area of focus. The Mavericks held a plus-10 rebounding advantage early in Wednesday’s game, but the Heat closed the gap in the second half. Overall, Dallas outrebounded the Heat 47-46. The Heat has been outrebounded in three of its past four games.
“We have the ability to do it against any team in this league,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t care about the size or the perceived lack of size. We’ve proven we can do it against anyone, anywhere, any building, at any time. It’s just a matter of consistency.”
The Heat has the best record (22-8) in the Eastern Conference, so any concerns Spoelstra might have about his team’s rebounding numbers are relative. Miami leads the league in field-goal percentage (.492) and is second in three-point shooting (.398) behind the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“We’re not going to dominate rebounding,” James said. “We don’t have a dominant rebounder. We’re not going to be top five in rebounding. We don’t have one of those guys who can just pull down 12, 15 rebounds each and every night … but I don’t want to use that as a crutch.
“I don’t want to say, because now we’re not rebounding, let’s try to dominate in other ways. We don’t even say, ‘OK, we’re not a good a rebounding team, so let’s do other things.’ We say, ‘Go out and rebound.’ ”