Miami Heats LeBron James looks on during their NBA basketball game against his former team the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland

LeBron James will play Thursday, as if you expected otherwise


LeBron James had a dislocated finger on his left (non-shooting) hand, an elbow stinger, a sore neck and an assortment of other bumps and bruises that come with an NBA season.

All of which led to reports that LeBron might sit out a game or two, starting Thursday against the Mavericks. You remember them, beat the Heat in the finals last year? Not going down that way, James said he is playing. Via ESPN’s Heat Index.

“I’ve still got work to do,” James said after the Heat’s practice in preparation for Thursday’s home game against the Dallas Mavericks in a matchup of last season’s NBA Finals. “I’ll be ready. I hate using injuries as an excuse. If I’m in uniform, then I should be good to go. The only recovery for it, the doctors told me, was rest. And I think we all know I’m having none of that.”

How very Kobe of you.

James played 41 minutes against the Pacers and had 24 points, nine rebounds but also six turnovers in a pretty average performance. He’s had a few games like that in a row. Some rest might do him good.

But he will go as the Heat in a game that in no way will make up for what happened last June but could be cathartic for fans. Unless the Heat play like they did against the Pacers again.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.