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Doc Rivers wants changes to schedule when it comes to rest: “We have to protect our product”

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The Cleveland Cavaliers rested LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love on Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers. It was a big, national TV game, so not having Cleveland’s most important players drew the ire of both the league office and Hall of Fame forward Karl Malone.

But it also triggered an important discussion about NBA scheduling that Clippers coach Doc Rivers weighed in on after LA beat the Cavaliers, 108-78.

Speaking to ESPN, Rivers said the schedule needs to be worked out to benefit a reduced workload for players while maintaining the overall product for fans.

Via ESPN:

“We have to protect our product,” Rivers said. “It’s hard. It’s impossible, if you actually knew what went into scheduling, but the look of back-to-back ABC national games — it’s not good.”

“I hate it for the fans,” Rivers said. “I really do. I hate it. I do it. We all do it. I mean, it’s bad. And I did it the other night in Denver. There are people with Blake and DJ jerseys all over the place.”

The discussion could go off the rails, but really what we’re talking about here is the ability of the NBA to keep fans interested in big, primetime regular season games while still allowing teams to chase the ultimate goal of a championship.

Fans want to see their teams win, and they want to see their teams in person. They shouldn’t have to choose between the two. But it’s become increasingly common in the past few seasons for star players to get rest during the season, and during critical games. What was once thought of as a quaint characteristic of the San Antonio Spurs has now become part of a winning strategy for top teams.

Rivers said he thinks they should eliminate some of the scheduling around how primetime games are handled, “I think we have to treat those games like they’re afternoon games and you don’t play the night before,” said Rivers. “And then you don’t play the next night after.”

That would make more sense. Malone is out of order if he thinks every player should be able to put up his iron man game log. Ironically, perhaps only LeBron in the modern era could be compared to Malone. But it would be nice for folks who spend their Saturday trying to get tickets, or who arrange a social event around watching the game, to not have to worry about whether they’re going to get a combined 35 minutes from DeAndre Liggins and James Jones instead of Kyrie and the King.

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.