The Miami Heat have just won arguably their most important game of the season, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-81 on the road no less (which is a feat in its own right). Even with their dominant victory over the Thunder, there seemed to be strange lull in the Heat’s visitor locker room. That was mostly due to their best player having to be escorted off the court.
LeBron James had a dominating night statistically and probably would have kept elevating it if not for Serge Ibaka’s hard foul towards the middle of his nose during the fourth quarter. As soon as James hit the court after his fantastic and-one, blood began to rush everywhere. This is a not a typical scene for James; he usually bounces right back up after falling and continues to play. This time, though, James was escorted off the court by several Miami trainers and did not return for the rest of the night.
The latest report is that James has a severally swollen nose, and it will be reexamined as soon as the team touches down in Miami. X-Rays have already been run and the results were negative which is a good sign because that means nothing is broken. The question now is should James play on Sunday against the Chicago Bulls?
The Heat are at a crucial point in the regular season. With less than two months to go until the playoffs, these remaining games are extremely important for the defending champs to fine tune their defense and build true cohesion with a 9-10 man rotation heading into the playoffs. Although the injury to James seemed grotesque at the time, his recovery should be quick, and he should start on Sunday against the Bulls. If this were the beginning of the season, James sitting after a minor injury like this would be warranted, but due to the current situation of where Miami is in the regular season (only a 1.5 games back from catching the Indiana Pacers for the top seed in the East) and what Miami wants to accomplish, James needs to play on Sunday to not only continue his dominant scoring streak but to maintain the “business-first” mentality the defending champs have taken on since the All-Star Break.