Gregg Popovich just one-upped LeBron James.
San Antonio Spurs stars LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan will not play Wednesday night against the Warriors due to ... load management.
No LeBron for Lakers-Warriors on Saturday.
No Aldridge or DeRozan for Spurs-Warriors on Wednesday.
Steve Kerr said Monday he has no such plans vs. Spurs. Could change now.— Monte Poole (@MontePooleNBCS) February 6, 2019
Load management, of course, was the same reason the Los Angeles Lakers gave for James' absence from the lineup in Saturday's Warriors win. But in many ways, the Lakers took their cue from Popovich.
In a nationally televised game on Nov. 29, 2012, Popovich rested all five of his starters against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. The Spurs were fined $250,000, but resting players only has become more prominent since then.
The Warriors, for instance, rested Draymond Green on the final stop of a five-game road trip last week in Indiana. In four full seasons under coach Steve Kerr, a Popovich disciple, Harrison Barnes (2014-15) is the only Warrior to play in all 82 games.
Still, Aldridge and DeRozan's absences do remove most of the luster in a matchup of two of the NBA's hottest teams. The Spurs have overcome a slow start, and are 21-9 in their last 30 games, although they lost to the Kings on Monday night in Sacramento. The Warriors, meanwhile, have won 12 of their last 13.
Dreams of a full-strength matchup must be put on hold until March 18, when the teams square off in San Antonio. The Spurs will have just 11 games remaining after that one, but Popovich seems to think their load will be properly managed as they fight for playoff positioning in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.