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LeBron James, Kyrie Irving expected to play in Game 5

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While neither will be 100 percent, both Cavs playmakers are expected to play Thursday.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

One of the scariest moments of Game 4 was when Kyrie Irving rolled his ankle while converting a layup in the third quarter. The hopes for a championship repeat were temporarily put on hold as everybody in the arena held their breaths. Irving was able to play through the injury, but some lingering effects from the injury were inevitable.

According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, Tyronn Lue indicated that Irving will travel with the team and is expected to play in Game 5.

In addition to Irving’s status Vardon indicated in a separate report that James is still dealing with an illness:

James spoke with obvious nasal congestion at shootaround this morning, ahead of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals in Boston.

Despite being under the weather, James will play in Game 5. He needs just 28 points to pass Michael Jordan as the all-time leader in playoff scoring.

A win Thurdsday would be a big deal for the Cavaliers. Not only would it send LeBron to his seventh consecutive Finals appearance, but it would give the team much needed rest. Not only for LeBron to get well, but also for Irving’s ankle to heal and the rest of the roster to tend to their wounds. The playoffs are a war of attrition, and the team can’t afford to continue battling with the Boston Celtics while the Golden State Warriors are sitting at home.

For James, the team will need more of the LeBron of the second half of Game 4, and not the one in the six quarters that preceded it. The Cavs have the firepower to handle a quiet night from James. But when he actively hurts the team as he did in Game 3, it puts them in a tough position. Now, history would suggest games where he hurts the team come around once every five years or so. So I would guess he has a better understanding of his limitations at the moment and will do what is needed to come away with the win.

With Irving, the biggest concern will be whether or not he aggravates an already compromised ankle. Playing against a team with a history of plays that toe the line between aggressive and dirty, he will need to make sure he doesn’t put himself in many compromising positions.