You can’t fault the NBA for being upset with the Cleveland Cavaliers. On Saturday, the defending NBA Champions sat their “big three”, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. The game was a nationally televised battle against the Clippers.
You also can’t fault the Cavaliers, who needed to give Irving and Love some off time and didn’t want to subject James to a game where he’d have to do all the heavy lifting.
As Shaun Powell notes, this is the current state of the NBA:
Teams with winning records will almost certainly keep their best players from playing back-to-backs after the All-Star break. At this point, that’s almost automatic. And also understandable, even to the anti-sitting crowd. The NBA should get the message and cease all back-to-back situations after February. Next week the Warriors play a back-to-back against Houston and San Antonio on the road. So you are warned. You know what’s coming (and not coming) from coach Steve Kerr when he fills out his lineup.
Basketball is a tiring sport with tremendous injury potential. Layer in the fact that the talent gap between NBA Superstars and bench players is huge, and blowouts like Saturday’s are unavoidable. As long as teams look to keep their stars healthy, these things will happen.
The solution? Lower the number of games played and extend out the season calendar-wise. Every year, teams like the Cavaliers, Warriors, Celtics, and Spurs have pretty clear paths to the postseason, even while handing a few games to the opposition via benching star players.
You can’t blame coaches and management for protecting their most valuable assets. I understand the NBA trying to protect their ratings, but this is a problem of their own making via poor scheduling.