After playing against the Boston Celtics on national television on Thursday night, the Golden State Warriors rested four starters on the second night of a back-to-back against the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Friday. This means that NBA fans in Cleveland don't get a chance to see entertaining stars like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green play in person this season, as the Warriors only play in Cleveland once a year.
It also means that fans who bought tickets ahead of time didn't necessarily get to see the product they paid for. Warriors coach Steve Kerr commiserates with those fans, and he thinks he has a solid solution for the league -- reducing the regular-season schedule by 10 games, from 82 to 72.
"I feel terrible for fans who buy tickets expecting to see someone play and they don't get to see that person play. It's a brutal part of the business. It's why I'm going to continue to advocate for 72-game seasons," Kerr said before Friday's game. "I know that means less revenue, but at some point, I think there needs to be an awareness from everybody involved -- the league, players, coaches, performance staff. Let's be really smart. Let's take care of these guys and play fewer games and the overall quality of the game will be better, and if that's the case revenue is going to go up anyway."
The resting of star players has been a hot topic in the NBA in recent years, and it's reached a fever pitch this season as teams consistently seems to be missing key contributors. But, according to Kerr, the data shows that resting players, especially on the second night of a back-to-back, is the safe play, and thus the Warriors will continue to err on the side of caution, even if it means disappointing some fans along the way.
"I know it's a big topic around the league. We have so much more data, so much more awareness of players' vulnerability," Kerr said. "It's proven that if guys are banged up, back-to-backs, players are much more likely to get injured and miss more games and so that's why you're seeing it league-wide. Everybody is being cautious when a guy is banged up. You're just playing the long game... We're going to play it safe all year long as long as guys are banged up and vulnerable to injury."
You can see Kerr's complete comments on the matter below:
Steve Kerr on the Warriors sitting their big names in Cleveland tonight— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 20, 2023
“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.”
Full soundbite pic.twitter.com/P0ZGbv1DNE
The NBA has recently made tweaks to the schedule to reduce the number of back-to-backs and total travel, but there's clearly still work that needs to be done on that front. Maybe that means reducing the number of games, as Kerr suggested, or maybe it means stretching out the length of the season in order to space games out a bit more. Something certainly needs to be done, because at this point it feels like two teams playing each other with their full roster is an anomaly rather than the norm, and that shouldn't be the case.