“At the end of the day, it sucks at times where certain guys have to rest but certain guys need rest,” James said. Neither Irving, who went off for 46 points against the Lakers, nor James, who added 34 points, would agree that the NBA has a problem of stars sitting out of too many games. They acknowledged the disappointment of fans and both said they wanted to play against the Clippers, but also said players resting at times throughout the regular season is unavoidable.
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The Cavs were scheduled for games on consecutive nights 16 times this season. “This is our sixth game in eight days and I don’t think anyone realized that,” Irving said. “We’re not here to complain about it but honestly playing basketball six games in eight days is a lot. But we prepare our bodies for it and I don’t have any ill-will toward the NBA being disappointed or the fans because I totally understand.”
When the word “problem” was thrown at James, he pinned it against the backboard like an Andre Iguodala layup. “Well, I’ve been part of six straight Finals and every single season and every single Finals has been bigger and bigger and bigger and better and better and more people have tuned in,” James said. “So, I don’t see there’s a problem going on with our league. There’s nothing bad at all with our league right now.”
Cleveland general manager David Griffin told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the league office called him shortly after the team announced its decision Saturday. “Yeah, they were not happy,” Griffin said.
But the GM also said it isn’t his job to appease the league and its television partners (which include ESPN). “Yeah, and they’re paying me to win a championship,” he told Shelburne. “I’m not overly concerned about the perception of it. We literally had one guy rest tonight, and everybody else was reasonably injured, so I don’t feel like we did anything terribly egregious.”
Griffin said the Cavs’ situation was different than that of the Warriors, who rested healthy players against the Spurs. “It was nothing like the last time that happened,” he told ESPN, referring to last weekend. “Those were three healthy dudes that rested. That’s not what happened tonight. Yeah, it sucks from a timing perspective. I feel bad for the league. I really do. I feel bad for the league, but it is what it is for us, from an injury standpoint. As you know, we haven’t had a team together for more than a week at a time all year.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers rested their Big Three on Saturday night in a 108-78 loss to the Clippers, prompting protests from frustrated fans and former players. Among those was Hall of Famer Karl Malone, who had a strongly worded message for players who pick rest over performing. Sage Steele: HOF’er Karl Malone: “if you don’t have at least 10 yrs experience, get your a** playing. It’s not work, it’s called playing. Besides tell our underpaid service members & police & first responders to rest. Dammit, they can’t.”
Although his Clippers team was the beneficiary of the Cavaliers’ decision to rest LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on Saturday night, trouncing Cleveland’s reserves 108-78, coach Doc Rivers said that the NBA needs to address the “back-to-back” scheduling of nationally broadcast games. “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.”
Johnson, Rodney McGruder and Wayne Ellington said Heat players were disappointed when James and Irving were held out Saturday on the second night of a back-to-back set. “We wanted those guys to play,” Ellington said. “When we found out they were sitting out, we were like, ‘Ah, man.’ We wanted that challenge. We look forward to that. [Monday] is a huge test for us.” Still, James Johnson said the Heat felt no disrespect because the Cavs rested their two stars. “You’re going to rest players like that,” he said. “They’re at the top. Everyone is chasing them. They can do whatever they want.”
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March 23, 2018 | 10:04 pm EDT Update
Mark Murphy: Evan Turner on Smart jamming thumb while going for loose ball: “Absolutely not (surprised). I don’t think he’d feel comfortable unless he had to double check himself before he got up off the ground. He’s a warrior.”