Many teams, including the Los Angeles Clippers, will be planning to rest their stars over the course of this regular season. The term “load management” entered our lexicon last season thanks to Kawhi Leonard, and both he and newest teammate Paul George will likely sit during regular season games so they are fresh for the postseason.
But some teams know they won’t have that luxury.
In a story posted by Joe Freeman of The Oregonian, both Damain Lillard and CJ McCollum said that they know they will not have the luxury of resting during the regular season. Instead, the Portland Trail Blazers guards expect to have to fight tooth and nail to stay in the Western Conference playoff race.
Via The Oregonian:
We’re not some big super team,” Lillard said. “So I don’t think we have the luxury to sit out, especially with how competitive the West is going to be.”
Added McCollum: “The race in the Western Conference is extremely tight. I don’t know if we can afford to Kawhi it, so to speak. You’ll Kawhi your way out of the playoffs.”
The Blazers are at sort of a weird spot in the NBA hierarchy. They reached the Western Conference Finals last season, but Jusuf Nurkic is injured and they basically swapped out their entire wing rotation over the course of the summer.
Folks are expecting Portland to either miss playoffs or be very good, with not a lot of room to land in between. That means that both Lillard and McCollum will need it to be on it each and every game.