LOS ANGELES — 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.”
Rivers emphasized that he has no quarrel with coaches, in consultation with their teams’ medical staffs, resting players when the schedule demands it. On Thursday, Rivers didn’t play his starting frontcourt of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan on the second night of a back-to-back in Denver.
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LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out for the Cavaliers, marking the second straight Saturday night the marquee ABC game was without several resting stars.
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“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.”
Rivers recommended the league refrain from scheduling teams playing in marquee nationally broadcast games for two games in as many days.
“I think we have to treat those games like they’re afternoon games, and you don’t play the night before,” Rivers said. “And then you don’t play the next night after.”
The previous Saturday, Golden State rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green against the Spurs in San Antonio in a showdown between the league’s top two teams on ABC. The game was the second in as many nights for the Warriors and their eighth in eight cities in a 13-day stretch.
In recent years, teams have adopted stricter rest and recovery regimens for their high-usage players, as an increasing body of evidence shows that excessive wear and tear can contribute to injuries and diminish performance.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich popularized the practice of holding players out some years ago. In 2012, the Spurs were fined $250,000 for sitting their star players for a nationally televised game in Miami.