The Golden State Warriors are visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday in a game circled by many due to its superstar power.
Except the Warriors’ top stars aren’t playing.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins are all getting a rest after Golden State went into overtime with the Boston Celtics Thursday, losing 121-118.
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Kerr hinted that several of his players are “banged up,” and while he feels “terrible” for fans who pay to see All-Stars who then sit the bench, the decision is necessary and unavoidable.
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“I know it’s a big topic around the league. We have so much more data, so much more awareness of players’ vulnerability. It’s proven that if a guy’s banged up, back-to-backs, players are much more likely to get injured and miss more games. That’s why you’re seeing it leaguewide,” Kerr told reporters Friday afternoon.
“Everybody is being cautious when a guy is banged up, and you’re just playing the long game. … We’re gonna play it safe all year long as long as guys are banged up and vulnerable to injury.”
Kerr added that if he didn’t play it safe and risked a superstar missing time in the playoffs for a regular season game, the story would be, “‘Why the hell weren’t you smarter in the regular season?'”
At the end of the day, the team’s goals come first.
“I feel terrible for fans who buy tickets who are expecting to see someone play, and they don’t get to see that person play. It’s a brutal part of the business,” Kerr added.
The seven-time NBA champ (three as a player, four as a coach) said he will continue to fight for 72-game seasons in the NBA (it’s currently at 82) so fans won’t miss seeing the stars, and the product on the court improves.
“I know that means less revenue, but at some point, I think there just needs to be an awareness from everybody involved — the league, players, coaches, performance staff. Let’s be really smart,” he said. “Let’s take care of these guys and play fewer games, and the overall quality of the game will be better. If that’s the case, then revenue is going to go up anyway.”
Curry recently missed 11 games due to a shoulder injury, and Thompson had not played for over 2½ seasons after multiple serious leg injuries. Golden State has remained careful with him since his return last season.
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The defending NBA champs are 22-23, ninth in the Western Conference.