Wednesday , Jan , 31 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

LeBron’s little piggy on the mend

(Sports Network) – It’s really difficult to imagine stud hoopster LeBron James
having his toes counted just like a mother used to with her children to the
popular nursery rhyme.

But still the Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star forward needs some tender loving
care now and then, and so do ticket holders when they are unable to watch a
future Hall of Famer in action.

Instead of heading to the market, James’ sore big toe on his right foot
stayed home and forced the superstar to miss two of the last three games.
James, though, is expected to make a return to the hardwood on Thursday
against the Miami Heat in South Beach.

James was forced to miss a January 26 win over Philadelphia, but sucked it up
and hit the floor in a loss to Phoenix two days later. In Tuesday night’s
124-97 win over Golden State, James opted to rest his ailing toe and Sasha
Pavlovic took over with a career-high 24 points. Pavlovic led a balanced
attack against the Warriors and was one of eight players in double figures.

Head coach Mike Brown should have the confidence now in his players without
James in the lineup, and can rely on Pavlovic to fill the void. Also, veteran
forward Donyell Marshall has averaged 15.7 points over the last three games.

James, who received the most votes for the NBA’s upcoming All-Star game in Las
Vegas, is averaging 27.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 2006-07. He
is the only baller this season to average at least 26 points, six boards and
six assists, and is on his way to record those type of numbers for a third
consecutive season.

Like it or not Cavs fans, James must be in the lineup to give Cleveland a
legitimate chance to win and remain atop the crowded Central Division. Brown’s
squad is just 3-6 over the last nine games and will open a five-game homestand
on Friday after the trip to Miami.

The Cavaliers have won 27 of their last 33 games at Quicken Loans Arena dating
back to March 5, 2006. They will try to keep that strong streak intact when
Charlotte, Detroit, the Clippers, Miami and the Lakers come to town.

James’ little piggy should be back to normal then, and if he is playing in
pain, one would never notice. The Heat hope James will not be ready for
Thursday’s showdown because the All-Star averaged 41.0 points, 7.5 assists and
7.3 rebounds in four games against them last year. James netted more than 40
points in three of the meetings, including consecutive 47-point efforts.

CLE