Thanks to the L.A. Clippers allowing Kawhi Leonard to take the equivalent of two “PTO” days in his first two weeks on the job, the term “load management” is the rage of the NBA right now.
With the Clippers in front of a national television audience hosting the Portland Trial Blazers, Leonard put on a fourth quarter show scoring 18 points in the quarter on 6-of-10 shooting to lead the Clippers to a 107-101 victory over the Trail Blazers on Thursday night at Staples Center. After sitting out the Clippers high profile match up against reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, Leonard was able to post 27 points and 13 rebounds to help the Clipper erase an eight-point fourth quarter deficit.
“I felt good; we just won a basketball game tonight as it was another test for us down the stretch, we got stops in the fourth quarter which was great,” Leonard said in his post game interview with TNT. “I just kept attacking in the fourth quarter and believing in my work and that’s about it. I wanted to win the basketball game, my teammates made shots, I made shots and we got stops.”
For those who are firmly against Leonard, Doc Rivers and the Clippers organization stance on load management, Leonard’s eye popping fourth quarter stats and blazing start of the season is paying off. Currently, despite playing in seven of the Clippers first nine-games this season, Kawhi is leading the NBA in fourth quarter scoring averaging 13.2 points a game in the final stanza.
Combined this, with the fact Leonard is averaging 29 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists a game which are all career-highs in the early season. One can tell the odds are slim to none that the reigning NBA Finals MVP will be off his load management program when the Clippers play on back-to-back nights.
In fact, Leonard said as much after the Clippers sixth victory of the season stating he plans to follow the lead of team doctors and his training staff when it comes to load management and sitting out one of the two games on back-to-back sets.
“Like I said, we are going to keep managing it moving forward.,” Leonard said in his post game interview session. “I’m not a doctor and that’s for what the doctors and my training staff is for, letting me know and just me telling them how I feel and just got to keep moving it forward.”