BOSTON (CBS) — No sports league does drama quite like the NBA, but sadly, the basketball world may be robbed of some can’t-miss conflict on the season’s opening night.
The league’s first game of the 2017-18 season will not only be missing Isaiah Thomas, but it also might be missing LeBron James, too.
James suffered a sprained ankle in late September and aggravated the ailment in a preseason game on Tuesday. As a result, the Cavaliers don’t know if he’ll be ready to go on Tuesday night when Kyrie Irving and the Celtics roll into town.
“Not sure. Got treatment all day today, so I’m not sure if we should be concerned or not,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue told reporters. “But it’s pretty sore today so we’ll just see what happens.”
The opening night clash between the Celtics and Cavaliers was expected to be a matchup infused with natural storylines. From Irving requesting a trade away from LeBron and the Eastern Conference champs, to Danny Ainge’s jaw-dropping decision to trade Thomas to Cleveland in order land Irving, to the lingering ill will from Jae Crowder toward Gordon Hayward, to the simple fact that the two best teams in the East would be meeting to open the season, this was supposed to be the equivalent of a pay-per-view matchup.
For the Celtics, a LeBron absence won’t be considered a tragic event, as it opens the window for a much easier victory against the Cavaliers — one that could prove useful in the standings next spring. But from a spectator standpoint, there’s no denying the impact of a LeBron absence.
While the game will still have the excitement that always accompanies a season opener, if it’s missing both Thomas (who’s out until January with his hip problem) and James, it’ll definitely be lacking some of the oomph that the basketball world expected.