LeBron James resting for Cavaliers-Pacers

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LeBron James is in the thick of one of the most fascinating MVP races in memory, as he competes with James Harden and Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul and Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan and…

But the concern for LeBron’s MVP chances was always about how much he’d push himself through the long regular season. He said he could still win the award despite getting more rest.

We’ll have an opportunity to learn whether he’s right.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

LeBron played 38 minutes in the Cavaliers’ win over the Raptors last night, bringing him to 37 minutes per game this season – his most since returning to Cleveland. This will give LeBron only one game – vs. the Pistons on Friday – in an eight-day stretch.

The Cavs are getting outscored by 7.2 points per 100 possessions without LeBron on the court. That’s a small sample, but they’ve been lousy without him the last two years, too.

When Cleveland’s other starters – Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson – have shared the court without LeBron this season, Iman Shumpert has gotten a majority of the minutes. That makes him the favorite to start as small forward tonight. That lineup has been ridiculously good offensive (137.8 offensive rating) and even worse defensively (149.0 defensive rating), though that’s just a 15-minute sample. What will it do over a larger stretch? We’ll find out.