The NBA figured it had everything planned out. A late-season game between two of the best teams in the Association. The No. 1 seed in the Western Conference pretty much on the line. Who wouldn’t want to get their popcorn ready and watch this dandy on national television Saturday night?
Well, due to circumstances out of the league’s control, the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs game on ABC Saturday night may in fact be one of the worst games on the NBA’s schedule this season.
It started with Kevin Durant being sidelined due to a sprained MCL he suffered in late February. Durant is expected to be back in time for the playoffs, but he won’t be on the court in San Antonio Saturday night.
With his Warriors team having lost four of its past six games, head coach Steve Kerr made a calculated judgement. He decided to rest Golden State’s remaining three All-Stars for this all-important matchup. Yes, that means the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will be sitting for this one.
Coach Kerr announced that Curry (rest), Green (rest), Iguodala (rest) & Thompson (rest) will not play tomorrow night in San Antonio.
— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) March 11, 2017
For his part, Green had an interesting take on Kerr’s decision following the Warriors’ brutal showing against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
Draymond Green on Steve Kerr's decision to rest the main guys tomorrow and whether it's a statement to NBA pic.twitter.com/TKeDHdjE7s
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 11, 2017
Some had concluded that Golden State was making a statement against the NBA. After all, the team is in the midst of a brutal schedule. It’s one we haven’t really seen in the recent history of the Association.
The Warriors played six games back east in 10 days, traveling from New York to Atlanta as part of a back-to-back during that span. They then returned home to play Boston for one game before heading to Minnesota and San Antonio for the team’s third back-to-back of the past two weeks.
Without getting into excuses, this surely has played a role in the Warriors’ recent struggles.
By resting his All-Stars on Saturday, Kerr is taking a page out of the book of mentor Gregg Popovich, who was the first head coach to sit star players all in the same game.
For his part, Pop and the Spurs will also be without their two-best players for what would have been a titanic Western Conference matchup.
It was announced on Friday that Kawhi Leonard is in the NBA’s concussion protocol and will miss Saturday’s game. Meanwhile, five-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge is suffering through heart arrhythmia and is out indefinitely (more on that here).
So there we have it. Six All-Stars, two past MVP and three MVP candidates all sitting out a game that the NBA decided to feature on national television.
The unfortunate thing here is that Golden State is just 1.5 games ahead of San Antonio in the race for the No 1 seed out west. Instead of these stars deciding the outcome, look for the likes of Patty Mills, Jonathan Simmons, Matt Barnes and JaVale McGee to play big roles here.
Not exactly what fans had in mind when they put aside their Saturday night plans for this one.