How Warriors’ approach to resting players could affect NBA standings

How Warriors’ approach to resting players could affect them originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Warriors on the second night of a back-to-back will be resting several key players on Wednesday night. That’s understandable, especially this late in the season. Context matters.

Already without Steph Curry and several others, Steve Kerr had all his healthy players ready to rock and start off a five-game road trip Tuesday with a win against the Magic in Orlando. Wrong. Despite still having plenty of healthy bodies, the Warriors scored only 16 points in the fourth-quarter to blow a lead and lose to a team who came into the game with only 19 wins.

Now, the Warriors face the Miami Heat, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, without several key players. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Otto Porter Jr. all are sitting, to go along with Curry, Andre Iguodala and James Wiseman.

“Just talking with the training staff and continuing the process of making sure our players who have been injured or are recovering from injuries, are getting the care they need and the rest they need and not subjecting them to risk,” Steve Kerr said when asked what went into the decision to rest those three. “These decisions are based on process, not on the results of the previous night’s game.

“We’re just following the process and it’s important that we keep these guys healthy with the playoffs coming up. So, we’re just making the wise decision.”

Kerr didn’t give away his exact plan for Golden State’s upcoming back-to-back, but painted a pretty clear picture of what it will look like.

And it isn’t exactly encouraging, especially with how the Western Conference standings are starting to look.

“In general, Otto and Klay are not going to play back-to-backs,” Kerr said. “I always reserve the right to play them, because what if one of them gets ejected five minutes into the game. … Otto in general, given his injury history di lui the last two years. Klay, the same thing. And then Draymond just coming back from his own injury.

“Back-to-backs, they are vulnerable. They’re more vulnerable playing a back-to-back that they would be otherwise.”

He then made it clear that health remain priority No. 1, saying “there is no balance” to trying to win these games and still get players the rest they need.

“You make the decision based on health,” Kerr said.

The already injury-riddled Warriors will be beyond undermanned Wednesday night in Miami. They also are looking to avoid a four-game losing streak and have gone 6-12 over their last 18 games.

Following their game against the Heat, the Warriors still have three sets of back-to-backs, and the next one starts as soon as this Sunday. On March 27, the Warriors play the Wizards in Washington, DC The next night, they face the No. 2-seeded Grizzlies in Memphis. Two nights later, they play the Phoenix Suns at Chase Center on a Wednesday night.

They then don’t play again until Saturday, April 2 when they host the Utah Jazz but then play the Kings in Sacramento the next night. The Warriors have a nice break after that and don’t play again until they go against the Los Angeles Lakers in San Francisco. Two nights after that, they finish the regular season with a back-to-back in San Antonio vs. the Spurs on a Saturday and then the Pelicans in New Orleans on Sunday – and Zion Williamson just might be back by then.

It’s clear Klay and Porter won’t play back-to-backs the rest of the regular season, and the Warriors still have three left. As his minutes restriction ramps up, perhaps Draymond plays in only one of the Warriors games against the Wizards and Grizzlies with that being a back-to-back as well.

Coming into Wednesday night’s showdown in Miami, the No. 3-seeded Warriors are two games ahead of the Jazz, three against the Dallas Mavericks, four-and-a-half on the Denver Nuggets and five-and-a-half up on the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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The hope is that Curry can return from a sprained ligament in his left foot for a few of the Warriors’ final regular-season games. Perhaps those last two games in San Antonio and New Orleans are a benchmark, with the Warriors’ home game against the Lakers being a more optimistic outlook.

A lot can change in the final two-and-a-half weeks. But it might be a bumpy ride for the Warriors, as they continue to take a big-picture approach before the playoffs.

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