LeBron James is averaging 39.1 minutes a game. Kyrie Irving is averaging 38.4. Kevin Love is averaging 37.
That would be third, fourth and fifth most minutes per game of players in the entire NBA.
It’s early and legs are relatively fresh, but that’s a lot of run. Coach David Blatt is trying to get some wins and get his key rotations used to playing together… but that is still a lot of run. And it can’t continue forever, LeBron told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
“That has to come down,” James said Tuesday, referring to the playing time for Cleveland’s Big 3.
“For me, I don’t want to do that all year,” James said. “Obviously right now it’s difficult because we’re trying to find a groove and we’re trying to find a rhythm and we’re trying to find something that you can’t really, you don’t want to shortcut it but at the same time you gotta be smart about it.”
This is one of those things that will be very different for coach David Blatt coming from Europe — there are fewer games and fewer games per week, with more practices. It’s easier to get guys some rest. In the NBA you have to be willing to sacrifice a little to make sure key guys stay fresh (for examples see Popovich, Gregg).
The last couple seasons in Miami Eric Spoelstra didn’t exactly go easy on LeBron, he played 37.7 minutes a game last year, but he did get five games off.
Again, we’re 10 games in so it’s a little early to freak out about rest. Blatt is smart enough to know if his star begins to ask for time off, you give him time off. The season is a marathon with the important race starting after the regular marathon ends, you don’t want to sprint every mile right now.
That said, less James/Irving/Love means more Tristan Thompson, more Dion Waiters, more guys who may not be ready for the stage they are thrust upon. More Shawn Marion when he gets healthy would be a good thing.
The Cavaliers are developing a real rhythm on offense, which will win them a lot of regular season games. But that’s not the race that matters, it’s not the one they need to rest up for.