(Reuters) - Wednesday’s mouthwatering matchup between the top two Eastern Conference teams could lose some of its luster with Miami Heat forward LeBron James questionable with a sore ankle.
The NBA’s reigning most valuable player did not practice on Tuesday after hurting his ankle during Monday’s 117-94 home win over the Utah Jazz. His status for the game against the first-place Indiana Pacers will be determined on Wednesday.
“It’s a little sore. I‘m getting around-the-clock treatment and we’ll play it by ear,” James, 28, tweeted. “We’re a long term team and I‘m a long term player. I‘m going to try and police myself with this.”
Wednesday’s game in Miami, which will be the second matchup between the two teams in eight days, also represents a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Final, which Miami won in seven games.
Speaking to reporters, James said he would have been ruled out “for sure” if the Heat were scheduled to play a game later on Tuesday.
“I’ve had my fair share of ankle twists so I already knew how it was going to be today,” the nine-time All-Star added. “Very stiff, very sore, it’ll be around the clock treatment ... and we’ll go from there.”
James rolled his left ankle while dribbling late in the third quarter against the Jazz and left the game soon afterwards to spend around seven minutes on the bench.
However, he was able to return in the fourth and ended the night with a team-high 30 points on 13-of-17 shooting, along with nine rebounds and nine assists.
“It’s not the first time he’s gone through it with that ankle,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the four-time league MVP. “He’s getting a lot of treatment today and a lot of rest. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
James has played in all 24 Heat games this season and is averaging 25.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists.
The Pacers (20-4) beat the (18-6) Heat 90-84 last week, but they surprisingly lost in their most recent outing, going down 101-96 at home to the Detroit Pistons on Monday.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue