Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has spoken out today on what he believes to be a crammed NBA schedule - claiming that the league should look at reducing the gruelling 82 game regular-season schedule as they look to find ways of protecting players from fatigue.
As reported by Zach Harper of CBS Sports, the veteran Heat coach made the suggestion when quizzed on the value of the NBA's upcoming post-season experiment which will see the Boston Celtics take on the Brooklyn Nets in a reduced 44-minute game:
"I don't think it's a matter of how long the game is," explained Spoelstra.
"I think there's too many games, to be frank. I think if there's some way to find a way to cut out some of the back-to-backs so there aren't 20-plus of them. I think that's the bigger issues, not shaving off four minutes in a particular game. But I'm open to seeing what happens with that."
Having had to handle Heat lifer Dwyane Wade with kid gloves throughout the 2013-14 campaign in order to protect the veteran's knees from over work ahead of the packed playoff schedule it is hardly surprising that Spoelstra would be in favor of a reduced schedule.
Heat's end of season struggles
Spoelstra's Miami Heat team were of course well and truly outplayed when it came to the season-ending showpiece series - losing 4-1 against the San Antonio Spurs and offering little more than a whimper in response.
With the likes of Wade, and even LeBron with his infamous air-con induced cramps, struggling to play at their physical peak at the most crucial point of the season there is perhaps a legitimate argument for reducing the regular-season congestion to save players for the major occasion.
At the end of the day fans, players and coaches want their players at their peak in the post-season and anyway of ensuring that happens more often than not will be supported by most hence the 44-minute game experiment.
The Nets-Celtics contest tonight will be exactly four minutes shorter than a standard 48-minute NBA game and the experiment comes after direct conversation with NBA coaches.
Rod Thorn, the NBA's president of basketball operations, explained the decision this week:
"At our recent coaches' meeting, we had a discussion about the length of our games, and it was suggested that we consider experimenting with a shorter format.
"After consulting with our Competition Committee, we agreed to allow the Nets and Celtics to play a 44-minute preseason game in order to give us some preliminary data that will help us to further analyze game-time lengths."