Mark Jackson says Warriors can’t afford to rest players to finish the regular season

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PHOENIX — With only seven games remaining in the regular season, and in light of recent injuries to the likes of Tony Parker and Danilo Gallinari which could materially affect the results of the Western Conference playoffs, it might be tempting for teams to be cautious with their key players, and even consider resting them down the stretch.

The Warriors, however, will not be one of those teams.

While Golden State won’t finish any higher than the sixth seed in terms of playoff positioning, the team is only a game ahead of the Rockets for seventh. Barring something catastrophic taking place, the Warriors are locked into one of those two spots.

But that isn’t the reason they won’t rest players. It’s because Mark Jackson is still building his young team, even as the playoffs approach.

“We can’t afford to rest,” Jackson said, before the Warriors faced the Suns on Friday. “We’re chasing, you know, finishing this thing up the right way. With those teams that you mentioned, they have an organization, they have coaches, they have players that have been there and done that. This is fresh for us, and we’re going to enjoy this ride and finish it the right way.”

Jackson won just 23 games a season ago with the Warriors, and the turnaround has come perhaps more quickly than expected. He credits the success to following the process from day one, which is likely the reason he’s not willing to mess with it at this late stage of the season.

“People look at us now and say we’re a playoff team, or we’ve enjoyed a great season,” Jackson said. “Well, they could have folded the tent last year. What you have to understand is, if you stay true to your process, it’s going to play itself out. The foundation was laid, even though we won 23 games last year, with our approach, with our mentality, with our habits. And if you stay true to it, you’re rewarded.”

Report: ‘Tremendous concern’ for Jeremy Lin’s knee injury

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The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?

Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:

If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.

The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.

It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.

Aaron Gordon throws himself alley-oop off backboard (video)

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Remember when Aaron Gordon was a promising fun player?

The Magic sidetracked him by playing him at small forward most of last season. But back at power forward, Gordon showed how he could push the pace as a four in Orlando’s season-opening win over the Heat.

There’s obviously flair in passing to yourself off the backboard, but it’s a sound way to improve position. Gordon did that to fantastic effect.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch with Boston in wake of Hayward injury

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Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.

What next for Boston?

In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.

Gordon Hayward addresses Celtics and fans from hospital bed (video)

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Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.

Hayward:

What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.

At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.

And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.