Add Golden State to the list of teams that are resting important starters

Add Golden State to the list of teams that are resting important starters

The NBA head office, unless some rash of fines are levied between Friday afternoon and the opening seconds of Friday evening’s Denver/Golden State game, apparently does not mind when teams rest their starters in the middle of what could be an eight-month season. As well they shouldn’t.

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The Golden State Warriors are the latest team to not only sit starters, but actually lean on the idea of “rest” as the reason why significant chunks of their rotation will not be suiting up:

This comes just 24 hours after the Memphis Grizzlies decided to rest their weary starting lineup in a game against the smarting Washington Wizards.

From Diamond Leung at the Contra Costa Times:

They've been going full bore since July," coach Steve Kerr said of resting Curry and Thompson, referring to their time spent winning the FIBA World Cup.

"They're fried right now, so that's the reason.

Shaun Livingston, Justin Holiday and David Lee will start alongside Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes, according to Kerr.

Teams have rested starters for years, but franchises always made a point to list a phantom sprained ankle or knee tendinitis as the reason for the benching. In the wake of the San Antonio Spurs admitting to sitting starters for rest, instead of made-up minor injuries, more and more teams are going to take advantage of hot play in autumn and winter as an excuse to sit players out of meaningless games in early spring.

The difference between the Spurs’ 2012 application and the current batch is the head of this monster. David Stern infamously fined the Spurs a quarter of a million dollars for having the audacity to besmirch the sanctity of a basketball game shown on basic cable TV (with a repeat ‘Charmed’ lead-in), all because Spurs coach Gregg Popovich referenced “rest” over fake injuries as the reason for his team’s disappearance.

The Grizzlies and Warriors? Under new commissioner Adam Silver, they’ll go scot-free. Again: as they should.

Golden State is 51-12, and they’re seven games up on the struggling Grizzlies with the top seed in the West. The two teams below Memphis, Portland and Houston, are working through significant injury woes. The Warriors aren’t going to set any records this season for winning percentage, so it hardly needs to chase down over the top winning marks as their long year moves along.

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You can question the decision to sit out against the Nuggets, however.

Friday marks the first night of a back-to-back, with the Warriors taking on the terrible New York Knicks on home on Saturday. The W’s then play the similarly-lowly Los Angeles Lakers on Monday before squaring off in a rematch against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. It’s true that the Warriors might want to have their rhythm about them in time for the game against the Hawks, who are a game and a half behind GSW in the race for the NBA’s best record, but it would seem in the team’s best interest to sit out the contests against New York and the Lakers as opposed to laying down for a streaking Nuggets team.

Following that Hawk contest, the Warriors will then spend 12 of their final 14 games either playing against teams currently in the playoffs, or teams that are acting like playoff teams (Utah, Denver). Only the Timberwolves and Suns will provide a break.

Golden State will finish the season with the West’s best record, by far, and they should be considered a championship favorite heading into the postseason. The next few weeks, however, are going to be rather rough – even if the outcome of the contests has no bearing on Golden State’s future.

Better get the rest in now, I suppose. And just sleepwalk through those Knickerbocker and Laker games – that counts as well.

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Kelly Dwyer

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!