The Los Angeles Clippers were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks 129 – 124, in a hard fought battle that came down to the last few minutes of play to the surprise of many with Kawhi Leonard inactive.
The injury-riddled past of 2-time NBA Champion Kawhi Leonard has been the topic of discussion. Kawhi has clearly put his health as a priority this season resting now for a second time this season in eight games.
The enticing national televised matchup of Kawhi verse the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokoumpo and the Bucks had the NBA community salivating. To the dismay of many the first game of the back-to-back Wednesday night has prompted Kawhi to sit out of the contest. It’s safe to say there will be many more load management games to come.
Before the game, Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers spoke on Kawhi’s load management. “I think Kawhi made the statement about how he has felt, so our job is to make sure it stays that way. That’s important. But he played a lot of minutes in the playoffs last year. We want to maintain his health. Really it is in some ways, we want him to just keep feeling better and getting better.”
Teams in the Western Conference can’t take any games off and it seems the Clippers are willing to take their chances with Kawhi not playing, prioritizing resting his body. The trend of players resting because of load management has steadily increased over the past few seasons with the intentions of limiting wear and tear throughout the course of the 82 game season.
MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had a game-high 38 points as he was a nightmare matchup for the Clippers to handle all night. The 6’11 forward known as “The Greek Freak” was one assist away from a triple double and showed his freakish talents draining four three-pointers.
“[George Hill] kept telling me to shoot the ball, so that’s what I did. It felt good. I’ve been doing the same thing. In the first seven games, they didn’t go in. In the eighth game, they went in. I’m happy about that and it felt good,” said The Greek Freak.
“We’re fine with [Giannis Antetokounmpo making four threes]. We did a pretty good job early on keeping him out of the paint. I thought as the game went on, and in that one stretch where we transitioned, he got us. But overall, he’s a beast, he really is,” Rivers mentioned on Antetokounmpo’s range.
Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams managed the load for the Clippers, both hitting season high in points Wednesday night with 34 each. Lou Will the former sixth man of the year, and inside bruiser Harrell brought their A-game against the Bucks.
— Jonathan Bassey (@Jonathan_Bassey) November 7, 2019
The Clippers brought intense energy from start to finish. “I wanted to win the game though. But the effort was great. We fought and that’s what you have to do on nights when we’re short handed. Looks like we followed the game plan pretty well. We lost some shooters at times [and] you can’t lose them. So the mistakes we made probably added up to the loss, but overall, I loved how we played,” said Rivers.
The Clippers face the Portland Trail Blazers on the second night of the back-to-back Thursday at 7:30 pm, with Kawhi Leonard anticipated to suit up.