They’ll have the reigning MVP available for the rematch - along with a recent history of success in San Antonio.
The Cavaliers have won eight in a row heading into Friday night’s meeting with the Spurs at the AT&T Center, where they’ll try to earn a fourth straight victory.
James sat out two games in early March to rest a sprained right ankle, and while Cleveland (57-15) lost at Milwaukee without him March 6, it bounced back two days later at home against San Antonio.
The Cavaliers also lost Antawn Jamison(notes) to a stiff knee early in the third quarter and trailed by six in the fourth, but they rallied to win 97-95 despite Manu Ginobili(notes) leading the Spurs with a season high-tying 38 points.
James twisted his left ankle in the first half Wednesday at New Orleans, but this injury hardly seemed to slow him down. The NBA’s scoring leader finished with 38 points and nine assists in a 105-92 win.
“I take what the defense gives me,” James said. “If they take away my scoring I find my teammates and vice-versa. I do whatever it takes for our team to win.”
The Spurs (42-28) can’t be too thrilled to see Cleveland with a healthy James. They’ve lost seven of eight in the regular-season series, and the Cavaliers are looking to join Boston as the only teams to win four straight at San Antonio since 2000.
Though Shaquille O’Neal(notes) (thumb) remains out, Jamison is healthy and Cleveland now has another big body in the middle to throw at Tim Duncan(notes). Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes), traded to Washington in the Jamison deal last month before being bought out of his contract, played his first game since re-signing with the Cavaliers on Wednesday.
In his first action in six weeks, Ilgauskas had one point in 17 minutes.
“Z knows the system, but I think he’ll even tell that he probably felt a little out of place,” James told the NBA’s official Web site. “But being out for a month is a long time even when you know the guys and know the system.”
This will be the fourth in a brutal five-game stretch for the Spurs that concludes Sunday in Boston. San Antonio followed an overtime loss at Atlanta on Sunday with a win the next night in Oklahoma City, but scored 35 second-half points in a 92-83 home defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
“You always want to beat the best teams, but at this point in the season, I just want to beat the team in front of me,” said Ginobili, who had a team-high 24 points and is averaging 23.2 since Tony Parker(notes) broke his hand March 6. “If it’s the worst or the best, we just need to win.”
Fighting for position in the crowded Western Conference playoff race, the Spurs need more from Duncan, who had six points on 2-of-12 shooting against the Lakers. Duncan has been held to 9.5 points per game in his last two against the Cavaliers.
James has averaged 30.7 points in the last three wins in San Antonio. He had 30 points and 14 rebounds in a 97-86 victory there Feb. 27, 2009, a game Duncan and Ginobili both missed.