First place in the Eastern Conference will be on the line Wednesday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers travel to meet the Boston Celtics.
And LeBron James couldn’t care less.
Okay, I jest. Kind of. He’s definitely not as interested in the outcome as you or me.
Shortly after the Cavaliers lit up the Magic on Tuesday, James told reporters he’s not getting caught up in the hype of a regular-season game—the burden of making six straight NBA Finals, he said, per ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin:
“I don’t know, I’ve played in a lot of big games,” James said following the Cavs’ 122-102 win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, marking Cleveland’s first three-game winning streak since late February. “I don’t … I’m the last person to ask about a big game in the regular season. I’m sorry.”
This has a very “We talking about the regular season, man” ring to it. (Shoutout Allen Iverson.) But LeBron isn’t out of bounds. He’s played in 128 postseason games since 2010-11. That’s more than 1.5 extra seasons’ worth of basketball. So yes, he’s played in his fair share of bigger games with larger stakes. Trivial matters like playoff seeding aren’t going to eat at him. Shit, maybe he was just buttering us up for a 6 p.m. EST announcement that he’s resting or something.
The Celtics, of course, shouldn’t interpret this stance as complete disinterest. LeBron is saying one thing, but there’s a better than good chance his play with say another. Though a win wouldn’t clinch first place for the Cavaliers, they would have a one-game lead and the season-series edge, 3-1, inside five games to play. That should be enough to keep them atop the conference, which, in turn, should be just enough to pique LeBron’s engagement levels after tipoff.