LeBron James believes the Cleveland Cavaliers will benefit down the stretch if he can keep his teammates involved. He's only going to have more players to try and include offensively over the next two months.
Though it turns out Delonte West is probably not quite ready to return after all, the Cavaliers will try to set a league mark for consecutive wins this season in a matchup with the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night.
Cleveland (41-11) has the league's best record and an 11-game winning streak, tying Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers for the longest this season. Clearly, James deserves much of the credit.
James was named the Eastern Conference's player of the week Monday, averaging 35.0 points and 10.3 assists in three games. He had 47 points, setting a franchise record with 35 in the first half, as the Cavaliers beat the New York Knicks 113-106 on Saturday night.
"I could really go for 50 a lot of nights if I wanted to," James said. "But I feel like if I have my teammates involved, it's ultimately going to help us in the long run."
James leads what could be the deepest team in the league, especially as it gets healthier. Though they haven't been at full strength all season, the Cavs are enjoying their best run.
Against league-worst New Jersey (4-46), Cleveland hoped West would return after missing eight games with a broken left ring finger. However, the team said Tuesday that West's finger has yet to sufficiently heal, though coach Mike Brown said a final decision won't be made until shortly before tip-off.
Daniel Gibson is likely to start again at point guard since West and starter Mo Williams remain sidelined. Williams, out with a shoulder injury, is scheduled to return in early March.
Leon Powe (knee surgery) has yet to play a game for the Cavs. Powe, signed over the summer, is expected to return after the All-Star break.
New Jersey, meanwhile, can ill afford to lose any of its players. Starting point guard Devin Harris is questionable after spraining his left shoulder in the Nets' 99-92 loss to Detroit on Saturday night.
Harris, averaging 15.8 points and 6.3 assists, was hurt in a collision with teammate Jarvis Hayes when chasing a loose ball. Hayes, who has made four straight starts for New Jersey, is probable.
"They said I'm going to have to stay off it for a while, but I don't plan to miss any games," Hayes said.
The Nets have lost 14 straight on the road and are 1-26 away form home. The Cavs, meanwhile, are a league-best 22-3 at home, winning nine straight and 20 of 21.
Cleveland is 2-0 against New Jersey this season and has won six straight in the series, holding the Nets under 90 points in each contest.