On a night when the Golden State Warriors are resting all of their top stars for their only visit to Cleveland this season, head coach Steve Kerr addressed concerns about fans who likely spent a lot of money for the chance to see Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Speaking to reporters before tipoff, Kerr explained he feels "terrible for fans" who buy a ticket expecting to see a specific player and called it "a brutal part of the business."
Anthony Slater @anthonyVslater
Steve Kerr on the Warriors sitting their big names in Cleveland tonight<br><br>"I feel terrible for fans who bought a ticket expecting to see someone play. It's a brutal part of the business. It's why I'm going to continue to advocate for 72-game seasons."<br><br>Full soundbite <a href="https://t.co/P0ZGbv1DNE">pic.twitter.com/P0ZGbv1DNE</a>
Kerr went on to say that Golden State's decision on when to rest players is based on health and workload.
"We're going to play it safe all year as long as guys are banged up and vulnerable to injury," he explained.
Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins are all out against the Cavs. Friday's game is the second night of a back-to-back after the Warriors lost an overtime game against the Boston Celtics.
All four of those players were on the court for at least 36 minutes against the Celtics. Curry played more than 40 minutes for the first time all season. Wiggins played 39 minutes and 46 seconds, his third-highest total of the season.
Green was on the floor for just over 37 minutes, his second-most in a game this season. Thompson likely would have passed the 37-minute mark for the first time since a double-overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 2 if he didn't foul out late in the overtime period.
Friday also marks the end of a five-game road trip for the Warriors that began on Jan. 13. The final four games on this trip were against Eastern Conference opponents.
The Warriors' decision to sit their star players will once again bring up the discussion about rest during the regular season. The NBA has attempted to curtail this problem by adopting load-management rules that prevent teams from resting top stars when there aren't "unusual circumstances," but the policy only applies to games on national television.
It's an unfortunate reality of the sport, but one that could be difficult to change because it's a hard thing to ask players to go at max effort when teams are playing 82 regular-season games in under 175 days.