(Reuters) - LeBron James is likely to miss the rest of the preseason after having an anti-inflammatory injection in his back earlier this week as the banged-up Cleveland Cavaliers wind up their preparations for the regular season.
The Cavaliers have two exhibition games remaining — against the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday and the Dallas Mavericks back in Cleveland on Monday — before they launch their 2015-16 campaign against the Bulls in Chicago on Oct. 27.
“We’ll see what happens at the beginning of next week,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt told reporters after team practice on Friday.
“I certainly don’t expect him to play both (preseason) games and I don’t know if he’ll even play one. We’ll see.”
Four-time most valuable player James on Tuesday received an anti-inflammatory shot to ease discomfort in his back, a precautionary move which he said had become customary for him during the preseason.
“It was all part of the process,” said James, an 11-time NBA All-Star. “We had already known that, looking at the schedule, looking at the preseason, we were going to do that. It’s all part of my maintenance program in the preseason.”
James readily concedes that the Cavaliers, who were beaten by the Golden State Warriors 4-2 in the NBA Finals four months ago, will not be ready to start this season as genuine title challengers due to multiple injuries.
Kyrie Irving (knee surgery), Iman Shumpert (wrist surgery), Kevin Love (shoulder surgery), J.R. Smith (hamstring) and Matthew Dellavedova (sore ankle) are among those players who have either missed games or not played during the preseason.
“I don’t think we will immediately be able to play at a high level because we have so many guys out,” James said. “I don’t think our chemistry is where it needs to be to start the season off.
“I think as we get guys back into the flow of things, guys come back off of injury and we’re able to put the time in on the practice floor, I think we’ll be a much better team.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Keating