It's not a popular topic. Well, for some people.
The Boston Celtics seem to have chosen to deal with the rigors of this shortened, 66-game season the way any aging, geriatric team preparing for the playoffs would – give the old horses some rest.
But that thought process isn't widely popular. Criticism has abounded as both Boston and Miami prepare to rest the bulk of its starters in preparation for each team's first round series. Some say it was unwise of Boston to allow Atlanta to secure home-court advantage so easily.
It wasn't easy, though. The Celtics didn't "tank" the game against Atlanta. Doc Rivers, Avery Bradley and Keyon Dooling tried to help the Celtics win the game. In fact, they almost did.
Now that Atlanta seems to be close to securing home-court advantage it would behoove Celtics fans (and those criticizing the choice to rest players) to look at the options that faced Boston before second-guessing the choice to rest the bulk of the usual starting lineup.
The first choice was obvious: play Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo and fight for home court. It was within reach. What many fail to recall is that Pierce suffered a thigh injury against Orlando, Garnett is old and fragile and Rondo didn't even play against Orlando due to a back injury. It's not like Boston is sitting the Big Three + One because it solely wanted rest. There are other motivating factors. You know, injuries.
Now, the next logical thought is probably popping up in many heads.
"Well, that doesn't make sense. Every NBA team is dealing with injuries at this point in the season," someone might say.
Sure, all teams are dealing with injuries. However, all teams aren't quite as old as Boston. All teams didn't work their primary three players an increased number of minutes during the second half of the season just to win the division title.
Boston has been in a unique situation. Either play the players and fight for home-court advantage, or rest them and remain confident in your chances playing in Atlanta. Also, I think Boston is more than confident in Phillips Arena. The Celtics won the season series 2-1, with one of those games being a hard-fought 79-76 victory in Atlanta. The Celtics "B" team almost knocked off a Hawks team that was playing as close to full-strength as possible.
And the Celtics have always felt like the future is more important than the here-and-now. Would they rather lose to Atlanta because Rondo, Ray, Paul and KG (and even Stiemsma) were slowed by nagging injuries, or would they rather allow each player time to heal a little before beginning the rough-and-tumble NBA Playoffs? I'll take the latter, even if that means a weakened team can't secure home court advantage. That scenario provides Boston with a better chance to beat Atlanta (even if they have to win a game or two in Atlanta) than a scenario with the Celtics limping, literally, into each and every game.
Resting the team sets Boston up for a stronger run. Without rest against Atlanta, Miami and Milwaukee to end the regular season, Boston would face a second round opponent (should the Celtics win its first round series) with perhaps even more injuries than it began with in the first place.
It may not work, and it may not be the most glamorous option, but it sure beats watching Ryan Hollins, Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels take the court as starters during a first round game because the Big Three are too injured to play. Call it buying time, call it useless, but don't pretend the Celtics aren't making the best decision to give them an opportunity to be successful in the playoffs.