It’s that time of the season in the NBA where key players are rested for a game or three to make sure they are healthy, and their legs are fresh for the playoffs. Well, for Gregg Popovich that time of the season started in November but the rest of the league is catching up. The Hawks rested key guys against the Lakers (Kyle Korver wanted to sit so bad he broke his nose) but they still won. The Warriors rested all their key guys against the surging Nuggets, and Steve Kerr was willing to sacrifice the game (Denver won). LeBron James said he’d like more rest.
Marc Gasol is no fan of this trend.
The decidedly old-school Grizzlies big man sat out last Thursday, as did other key Memphis starters at the request of coach Dave Joerger, in what became a loss to Washington. Gasol did not like that, he told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
“No, I don’t like rest,” Gasol said. “It’s not my call. It’s never been my call. It will never be my call. I don’t like resting. I know I have a small window. Basketball, itself, gives you a small window because you have a certain amount of games. I take pride in playing every game. To me, it’s important to play every game. But I don’t run the show. There are other people that make those decisions and I’ll respect it. I respect Dave and I’ll have to deal with it.”
Gasol may not like it, but he could use it. He is apparently battling a little bit of a sore leg. He was not himself the night before he was rested (9 points on 9 shots vs. Boston), and even after a few days off wasn’t blowing anyone’s doors off against the Bucks (12 points on 12 shots, although he had 7 assists).
Memphis has faded a bit of late in the West, and Joerger is wisely looking ahead (he’s already been cutting back his stars’ minutes). If fresh this Grizzlies team could come out of the West, they are that good. But they need Mike Conley to get healthy, more consistent wing play (consistency is not Jeff Green’s middle name), and they need their big men to be the best in the game. Gasol and Zach Randolph are the heart of the Grizzlies.
So Gasol may have to suffer through a little more rest.