Cavaliers like extra NBA Finals rest but Warriors don't
CLEVELAND, USA – An extra rest day between travel and games in this year's NBA Finals has come as a welcome break for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but not for the Golden State Warriors.
The move was made to help ensure players were at their best when contesting for the championship trophy after last year's finals, when Cleveland star LeBron James was exhausted after epic efforts against the eventual champion Warriors.
This year, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are healthy instead of sidelined by injury as in 2015, and no one has complained of too little rest while the quality of play has been top level.
"The one day in between was taxing on all of us," James said. "It benefits all of us as a league, being able to get an extra day and prepare from coast to coast."
The extra rest might certainly have helped 4-time NBA Most Valuable Player James and teammate Kyrie Irving on Monday when they each scored 41 points in a 112-97 road victory, pulling the Cavaliers within 3-2 in the best-of-7 series that continues Thursday in Cleveland.
"It has been beneficial for me for sure," Irving said. "That 4 and a half hour flight coming from the west coast and getting adjusted to the time, it can take a toll on your body. But I love the extra day - just coming in, able to get some work in and get treatment when you need to and prepare for the game.
"I know the NBA, and I know the fans would like to see all of us at our best and that extra day is beneficial."
But Warriors coach Steve Kerr doesn't see it that way at all. His team's motto is "Strength in Numbers" and team depth helped Golden State win a record 73 regular-season games, many times playing on consecutive nights or with only a day off.
"I see more drawbacks, more travel," Kerr said. "For both trips to Cleveland we've come two days in advance. We never do that in the regular season.
"I understand we're doing this to stretch it out. I just think every other day is the way it should be. But it's not up to me.
"Every other day is ideal for players. You get a day off and then these guys are incredible athletes - 48 hours between games is kind of what they're used to during the regular season.
"It just seems like this is taking forever."
Andre Iguodala, last year's NBA Finals Most Valuable Player after coming off the Warriors' bench, says tiring out rivals is part of the process to becoming a champion.
"For us there is strength in numbers," the 32-year-old forward said. "We try to use the depth of our team, try to maximize it. We've done a really good job of that the last few years. Other teams haven't had as much success using as many guys as we have when you try to wear teams down."
Cleveland's Richard Jefferson, 35, has more pep in his step with the two-day breaks.
"My legs feel good. Thank God we had a few days in between," he said. "That definitely helps with the rest and recovery."
That might produce a slim edge for the Cavaliers but coach Tyronn Lue noted both sides get the extra time off.
"The advantage is guys get the proper amount of rest," Lue said. "Also flying coast to coast it's easier on the guys' bodies. Guys can let their body recover." – Rappler.com