For someone who said a few days into the season that he wanted to play all 82 games, LeBron James' goal already appears to be in jeopardy.
After taking a knee to the quad late in the Cavaliers' fifth straight victory, James isn't certain to be on the floor Sunday as Cleveland tries to avoid another lethargic first half against a visiting Indiana Pacers team that appears fully recovered from a tough start.
Back issues kept James out of five of the Cavaliers' seven preseason games and at least briefly had him in question for the opener, but he played in that 97-95 defeat at Chicago and has played at least 30 minutes in each subsequent game as Cleveland (5-1) hasn't lost.
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He delivered his best overall performance in Friday's 108-102 win over Philadelphia, pouring in 23 points in the second half to finish with season highs of 31 and 13 assists. But James also got kneed in the thigh when going up for a layup in the fourth quarter, afterward admitting he felt sore.
"Probably a lot worse (Saturday)," said James, who on Oct. 30 told reporters he intended on playing in all 82 games. "Probably be around-the clock-treatment trying to get ready for Sunday. Hopefully it doesn't stop me from playing with the quick turnaround with us having an early game."
Whether he plays or not, Cleveland could use a wake-up call early in games - something James said veteran James Jones provided at halftime Friday night by laying into the team. The Cavaliers have trailed through two quarters in three straight games, a combined minus-14 differential in two against the 76ers and another against New York. They're shooting 41.3 percent in the first 24 minutes this season and an NBA-best 51.4 percent after the break.
"I don't like how we've started the last three games," James said. "We've got to do a better job of that. We can't do it on Sunday against a team that's pretty good in Indiana, so we've got to change our approach a little bit."
The Pacers (3-3) probably felt that way after allowing an average of 105.0 points in three October losses. But they're 3 for 3 in November and allowing just 89.0 points per game after holding Miami to 38 after halftime Friday in a 90-87 victory.
Indiana's turnaround has coincided with Paul George finding his footing. George averaged 16.8 points and shot 33.3 percent in his first four games but has totaled 62 points and gone 22 of 45 from the field in the last two.
"I think I'm getting more comfortable with the offense," George told the team's official website. "(Friday), from the tip I got a quick layup and felt good from there on. And then I got rolling in the second half."
He wasn't kidding. George had 21 of his 32 - his highest-scoring regular-season game since putting up 35 on Feb. 19, 2014 - after the break.
"When you see a guy rolling, you've got to milk the cow when the cow is there," guard George Hill said. "When a guy is rolling like that, you've got to keep feeding him until that well is dry."
George's production helped make up for the Pacers' second straight game without C.J. Miles, who tweaked his ankle Tuesday in Detroit. Rodney Stuckey left in the second half Friday with an ankle injury, leaving both players questionable to face the Cavs.
Indiana could especially use Miles, who totaled 39 points in two home wins over Cleveland last season.
The Cavaliers have won 12 straight against Indiana in Cleveland when James suits up for them dating to his second season in the NBA.