Will Cavaliers' philosophy of rest over seeding stand up against Boston Celtics?

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Will Cavaliers' philosophy of rest over seeding stand up against Boston Celtics?

Post by bobheckler on Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:47 am

http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2017/04/will_cavaliers_rest_over_seedi.html



Will Cavaliers' philosophy of rest over seeding stand up against Boston Celtics?



LeBron James, Kevin Love on Cavs 'rollercoaster' 2OT win over Pacers



Joe Vardon, Cleveland.com By Joe Vardon, Cleveland.com





on April 03, 2017 at 3:58 PM, updated April 03, 2017 at 6:29 PM




CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers like to say they value rest over a particular playoff seed.

This week is designed to dare them to prove it.

Awaiting the Cavs Wednesday is a huge showdown with the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. The Celtics lead Cleveland by a 1/2-game for first place in the East. Should the Cavs take care of business Tuesday with their home game against the Orlando Magic (who they've beaten 16 consecutive times), the Celtics' advantage would be gone.

The Cavs lead Boston 2-1 in the season series, making Wednesday's matchup even more important. Cleveland would not only go up a full game with five to play, but would own the head-to-head tiebreaker -- the first determining factor when teams are tied for a playoff seed.

OK, now it's time for the catches. Yes, there are many.

The Celtics blew out the Knicks on Sunday, and will get two days off before the Cavs come to town.


Cleveland is of course coming off an emotional, taxing, draining 135-130 win in double overtime over the Pacers Sunday. LeBron James played more minutes (52) than he has in any game since Jan. 27, 2013.

After James, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and J.R. Smith all played at least 42 minutes, and Kevin Love (coming off knee surgery) played 37.

Coach Tyronn Lue canceled practice Monday and shootaround on Tuesday for the Magic game. The players won't be on the court again until they show up at 4:30 p.m. for a walk through to get ready for Orlando.

"Um, we play Tuesday? I'll be ready Tuesday," James said, after posting 41 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists in that marathon against the Pacers. "I'll be ready to go Tuesday."

But what about Wednesday? Given the way the Cavs have conducted business this year -- targeting back-to-back games to rest players (on occasion), and considering the workload undertaken Sunday, there is virtually no way Cleveland's stars would play against both the Magic and the Celtics (they also play Friday at home against Atlanta).

Orlando is a home game and Boston is not. Twice already this season the Cavs played road games without James, Irving, and Love.

Also, the Cavs are 1-9 on the second night of back-to-back games on the road.

In other words, this is the epitome of a scheduled loss. The Celtics, at home, rested and ready, against a Cleveland squad coming in for its third game in four nights.

But the No. 1 seed is literally on the line here. The Cavs know it would be a bad look not to try to get it. And they also know the league is watching.

It was after the Cavs didn't play their Big 3 on a Saturday in Los Angeles for a game broadcast on ABC that NBA commissioner Adam Silver demanded owners be involved with decisions to rest players and threatened "significant penalties" if protocol for resting players isn't followed.

The league's owners are meeting Thursday -- the day after the Cavs and Celtics play on ESPN -- and the topic is going to come up.

Cleveland is also just 19-19 on the road this season. Yes, the Cavs are expected to ramp up in the playoffs, and it's true they closed every playoff series (including the Finals) on the road in 2016. But one more tough stretch now could pay huge dividends when the conference finals come around.

Asked if the Pacers' slugfest changed Lue's plans this week, he said "I don't know how our guys will feel."

There are myriad quotes attributable to Lue from the past two months talking about this very issue. Does he value the rest (and health) of his players or getting the top seed (not that he can't have both, it's just, if he guns for No. 1 he risks injuries)?

"To be a championship team you've got to win on the road," Lue said last week. "For me if I had to choose one, health would be the biggest thing over anything else. We've just got to get healthy."

That stance will be tested this week.


bob
MY NOTE:  If Cleveland rests, we win.  If Cleveland wins they still can't rest because we'll be hard on their heels to the end, which means they'll be tired by the EC Finals.  As Doc used to say "you are your record" and the reason why Cleveland is in the position of having to choose between having the #1 seed or resting is because they aren't the same team as last year.  Repeating is one of the toughest things to do in sports.  Even the record-setting 73 win Champion GSW didn't do it.  You are your record, and we have a shot at a 54-win season despite losing Bradley for 27 games, Horford for 14 games and Crowder for 10 games.


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