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LeBron James Addresses Players Sitting for Rest During NBA Season

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 18:  (left to right) Kyle Korver #26, Kyrie Irving #2 and Lebron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers sitting out the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 18, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
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Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2017

After the Cleveland Cavaliers were criticized for resting their stars during Saturday's prime-time game against the Los Angeles ClippersLeBron James spoke out on the issue.

Per ESPN's Dave McMenamin, following Cleveland's win Sunday over the Los Angeles Lakers, James stressed the big-picture perspective for the team:

I don't think the NBA can do anything about it. At the end of the day, it sucks at times where certain guys have to rest, but certain guys need rest.

And it's a long, strenuous season and the NBA does a great job of putting the schedule together as best as they can. You're going to have back-to-backs. You're going to have certain games where certain things fall on certain nights, but a coach's job is to figure out a way for their team to compete for a championship, not compete for a game.

James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love all sat against the Clippers in a game the Cavaliers lost 108-78.

Speaking to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin heard from the NBA "seven minutes after it was announced" James, Irving and Love would not play, and the league was "not happy."

While Griffin seemed to understand the NBA's perspective, he had a pointed response:

After his team won, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said the NBA needs to look into how it schedules games on consecutive days.

"We have to protect our product," he said, per ESPN.com's Kevin Arnovitz. "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."

It's worth noting the Cavaliers had Friday off before their game against the Clippers after playing the Utah Jazz on Thursday. Their game against the Lakers, who play in the same arena as the Clippers, was the second of back-to-back games.

When the Golden State Warriors rested Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson for an ABC prime-time game against the San Antonio Spurs the previous week, they were finishing a stretch of five games in seven days in which they traveled to New York and Atlanta, came back home to face Boston and then went to Minnesota the day before visiting San Antonio.

The NBA obviously wants to put its best teams and players on the prime-time stage to generate ratings and interest in the sport during the course of a long regular season.

Teams, especially ones like the Cavs and Warriors that will be prominent playoff contenders, are trying to do right by their players to ensure they are in peak physical condition for what they hope will be a long postseason run.

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