LeBron out vs. Bulls due to broken nose, Greg Oden will start in his place

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The mask will have to wait, at least for one game.

LeBron James has been ruled out of Sunday afternoon’s nationally televised contest against the Bulls due to the broken nose he suffered in Thursday’s win over the Thunder.

Erik Spoelstra informed reporters of the decision before the game, and also told them who will get the start in his place: Greg Oden.

From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

James, who had his nose repaired Friday and then was limited to light shooting at Saturday’s practice, now will have a full week to recover, with the Heat’s next game Thursday at home against the New York Knicks, the second game in this four-game homestand.

“We understand the big picture,” coach Erik Spoelstra said 90 minutes before Sunday’s game.”The fact that we don’t play until Thursday, it makes the most sense.”

Oden has been intentionally brought along slowly by the Heat this season, only appearing in 10 games to this point and never for more than 13 minutes. He’s averaged 2.8 points and 2.2 minutes in 7.8 minutes per game, but just because he’s starting we shouldn’t assume he’ll get a significant bump in his minutes.

Coaches often times prefer to keep their regular rotation intact when a star player is out with an injury, so a seldom-used reserve gets the nod instead of the next best player off the bench. That’s likely the case here with Oden, although if he is to be a factor for Miami in the postseason, the team will at some point need to get him acclimated to playing on a consistent basis.