Why are coaches giving stars like Antetokounmpo and Embiid nights off?
With under a month to go in the NBA season, coaches will be hoping to avoid the injury problems like the Golden State Warriors have with Steph Curry.
Steph Curry will be out for the at least the next couple weeks, and that has sounded alarms around the league. After Steve Kerr watched his super star shooter limp off the court against the Celtics, NBA coaches seem like they are starting to rest some of their stars in preparation for the NBA Playoffs.
Warriors without Curry for final stretch
While Curry’s ankle was twisted as a result of a collision with Marcus Smart and not an accumulation of wear and tear the Warriors are feeling the effects of the Splash Brother’s injury.
The Warriors are in a fight for the second seed in the West, but will have a tough time hanging with the Memphis Grizzlies who are starting to stretch their lead over Golden State with Curry sidelined for a couple weeks.
NBA coaches will be focused on getting the highest possible seed going into the playoffs, but they have to do a balancing act as they keep one eye on the health and freshness of their players once the post season comes along. Getting the top seed or home court in the first round in the playoffs is important, but it won’t mean much if they are without their super star for the duration of the playoffs.
All you have to do is look at the recent playing time of the favorites to win the NBA MVP. Joel Embiid is the odds on favorite to be named the Most Valuable Player, and even though the Sixers are in the chase for the first seed in the East, Doc Rivers decided to rest his big man and James Harden against the conference-leading Miami Heat on Monday night.
It was the first night off Embiid had since the end of January. The decision paid off doubly for Philly and Doc Rivers as his stars got some rest, and the Sixers beat the top dogs in the East.
Budenholzer keeping Giannis fresh
Reigning champion and MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo had a very light week work playing just one of the Bucks two games over the last seven days. The Greek played and dominated in the Bucks win over the Sacramento Kings, but coach Mike Budenholzer decided to rest his star against the streaking Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.
In other NBA news
Milwaukee would go on to lose the game against the T’Wolves as Antetokounmpo watched from the sidelines. Tonight the two time MVP started against the Chicago Bulls after resting his body over the last week.
The Grizzlies young gun Ja Morant might be the youngest of those in contention for the MVP, but that hasn’t stopped Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins from resting his super star point guard.
Morant sat two of the three games over the last week, as the Grizzlies went up against some underwhelming competition. He sat in the wins over the Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets, and strangely the only game he played in was the loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Jokic and Nuggets fighting to avoid Play-In
The reigning NBA MVP, Nikola Jokic, is the only one that hasn’t had a night off in ten games, all the way back on March 5th. The Nuggets are in a bit of a different spot than the rest of the teams that have MVP contenders.
They have two of their stars sidelined, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. have been unavailable for Quinn Snyder and the Nuggets which has put an extra work load on the Serbian star. Denver hosts the LA Clippers tonight, and all indications point to Jokic starting as the Nuggets look to stay above the Play-In spots in the Western Conference.