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Doc Rivers Takes Shot at Lakers After LeBron James' Load Management Comment

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 09:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers react to a free throw during a 116-102 Clipper win at Staples Center on March 9, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers seemingly took issue with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James' views on load management Tuesday.

According to Mark Medina of USA Today, Rivers defended his approach of resting players and suggested that James is running the roost when it comes to the Lakers' coaching and personnel decisions: "It's our philosophy. I don't know what theirs are. I think theirs is whatever LeBron says it is, to be honest."

Rivers' comments came after James insisted Sunday that he won't sit out games unless he is injured: "Why wouldn't I play if I'm healthy? It doesn't make any sense to me. My obligation is to play for my teammates. If I'm healthy, then I'm going to play. If coach sits me out, then I'm not healthy. It's just that simple."

Perhaps no NBA team is more closely linked to load management than the Clippers due to the cautious approach they have taken with superstar forward Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard, who has been nursing a patella tendon injury in his left knee, has missed nine games this season. The Clippers have also resisted using him in back-to-back games.

It is difficult to argue with the Clippers' strategy since Kawhi sat out 22 games for the Toronto Raptors last season before going on to lead them to their first NBA championship in franchise history. Leonard was also named NBA Finals MVP for the second time in his career.

Even with Leonard missing nine games and Paul George missing the start of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery, the Clippers are second in the Western Conference at 21-8.

Meanwhile, LeBron has appeared in all 28 games for the Lakers this season, and he is putting up MVP-caliber numbers with averages of 25.9 points, 10.6 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game in his first season with Anthony Davis, who has appeared in 26 of the Lakers' 28 games.

That has led to the Lakers posting an NBA-best 24-4 record and erasing any doubt regarding whether they will reach the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13.

Both the Lakers and Clippers are thriving with different philosophies, and it won't be at all surprising if they meet in the Western Conference Finals for the chance to compete for a championship.

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