The NBA regular season is coming to a close. In what appears on the surface to be a relatively meaningless game in tonight’s Hawks-Bobcats matchup, AtlantaÂ Â actually has a lot to consider in its approach.
In the grand scheme of things, this game won’t have any significant consequences– the Bobcats are out of the playoffs, and the Hawks have been firmly locked in as the fifth seed in the East for a while. So, LD may benefit from resting his starters and avoid risking injury to make sure everyone is fresh for Round 1 against the Magic. And he’s taken that approach over the course of the past few games:
“I think it’s more important to rest starters and get out of these last few games as healthy as we can. Yes, we would like to break the losing streak. Yes, we would like to have a win to gain some momentum heading into the playoffs.Â But I can live with healthy players better than I can live with a win from a game that has very little meaning.” ~LD
It’s fair to play it safe– a serious injury to J-Smoove, Big Al or J.J. would be devastating.Â But at the same time, you don’t want to send a message of indifference.
The Hawks are currently riding a season-high 5-game losing streak, and another loss to the lowly Bobcats wouldn’t exactly be the morale-boosting motivation needed to go into what will be a tough series against the Magic.Â For a team that is so vulnerable to wide swings and streaky play, momentum will be huge. And it doesn’t have to come from having all five starters out on the floor–Â Monday night’s game against the Heat was a great instance of bench players stepping up when Drew decided to rest his starters late in the game.
Basically, I don’t care who’s out there– all five starters, “garbage time,” a mix of both, or maybe an attempt at throwing Â players with interesting names on the floor (newly acquired Magnum Rolle, Pape Sy, Zaza?!) So long as the effort, energy and momentum is there to ride high into the playoffs.
Tipping off at 8 PM EST in Charlotte tonight. Go Hawks!