It’s happened for the second Saturday in a row.
Last Saturday, Golden State’s Steve Kerr created a minor controversy when he sat Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala against the Spurs (who were without Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tony Parker due to injury). Kerr did it because that was the eighth game in 13 days, with a couple of cross-country flights for the Warriors.
Love is coming off missing time for a back injury and is not playing in both ends of a back-to-back (so Lue is sitting him for the first game rather than the Laker game Sunday), and Irving had a mild sprained ankle in their last game.
While the Cavaliers are on the first game of a back-to-back starting a four-game road swing, that game is in the same building Sunday against the Lakers. Before this, the Cavaliers hadn’t played since Thursday and were not in an unusually dense part of the schedule. That said, LeBron has had little rest this season and a crazy workload, and Lue has said he wanted to get his key players rest heading into the playoffs.
But all three in a nationally televised game?
This is again going to lead to a talking point around the league and on sports talk radio, plus you can be sure someone with ABC/ESPN/Disney is calling up Adam Silver to remind them exactly how much they paid in broadcast rights for quality games.
This summer the NBA league office, the players union, and representatives from the teams need to sit down and have a discussion about resting players. The analytics undeniably show rested players not only perform better but are far less likely to be injured — teams with massive financial investments in player and looking at the big picture understandably think rest first. However, there is a tipping point where fans and league sponsors are going to push back.
And we seem close to that point.