LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue Tuesday addressed criticism that he may have intentionally rested players this past weekend in an effort to avoid a first round playoff matchup with LeBron James and the defending champion Lakers.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis under the basket during a game against the Clippers on May 6, 2021, at Staples Center. (Getty Images)
“I don’t give a damn what anybody else thinks on the outside,” Lue said Tuesday, according to ESPN. “We decided to go health over anything else. We finally got our team healthy, and that is what we focused on.”
The Clippers rested stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in their final two games against the Houston Rockets Friday and Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, along with several other starters.
The move dropped the Clippers from the No. 3 seed to the No. 4 in the competitive Western Conference, ensuring the Clippers will not face the Lakers until the second round of the playoffs at the earliest.
Game 1 of the Clippers first-round series with the Dallas Mavericks is Saturday.
“Whatever people say on the outside, I don’t care,” Lue said, according to ESPN. “I don’t read Twitter, have Twitter and Insta-twit, all that. I don’t care about all that. I am my own man and I do what I want to do, that’s how I live my life.”
The Lakers will face off with the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night at Staples Center in the much anticipated play-in game. If the Lakers were to win, they would clinch the No. 7 seed and a first-round matchup with the Phoenix Suns.
It would also ensure that they could not play the Clippers until the Western Conference Finals. If they were to lose, however, they would have to play Friday for a shot at the No. 8 seed and a first-round matchup with the Utah Jazz. In that case, they could potentially meet the Clippers in the second round.
The Clippers are hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s historic collapse in which they lost a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in round two of the bubble playoffs last September.