It’s that stretch of the season — coaches are looking especially hard at getting their star players some rest so they can be fresh for the second season of the playoffs. Well, it’s always that time of the season for Gregg Popovich, but now is when the rest of the coaches join his bandwagon.
But that can come with implications — and not just for the fans who paid good money hoping to see their favorite players.
Tuesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to rest LeBron James against the Houston Rockets, reports Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
It’s not likely to have an impact on the Cavaliers, who remain 2.5 games ahead of the second-seed Raptors for the top spot in the East with just nine games to play. Cleveland is going to finish with the best record in the East.
But this move could have an impact in the West. Houston is the current eight seed in the West, clinging to the final playoff spot in the conference, half a game back of seven-seed Utah and half a game ahead of nine-seed Dallas. LeBron not playing certainly doesn’t mean the Rockets will win — Cleveland still has Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and a quality roster, plus Houston is the walking definition of inconsistent — but it makes it more likely. And if Houston can beat a shorthanded Cleveland team, that is a huge bump in their chances of making the playoffs.
That said, Houston likely gets in either way. Fivethirtyeight.com gives Utah a 96 percent chance of making the playoffs, Houston 86 percent, and Dallas just 18 percent. The Mavs schedule — and they fact they have lost 10-of-12 plus are without Chandler Parsons the rest of the way — stacks up against them. Dirk Nowitzki is doing his best Sisyphus impression, but we know how that story ends.