The Houston Rockets are pretty much cemented into the third seed, and with a handful of games left, there is literally nothing left to prove. Maybe pride, but let's be real now, regular season-wise they've accomplished what they wanted to.
The Rockets took a roster many wrote off before the year and made themselves an actual title contender.
So now, it's time for James Harden, Mike D'Antoni and everyone else to embrace resting. Ryan Anderson is injured and will be missing in action for the next two weeks, a move D’Antoni said is largely precautionary.
But they won't.
"We don't rest,” D’Antoni said. “We don't do that.”
Harden has been on the record opposing the idea of sitting just one game. He’s even playing through a jammed wrist right now, and he could be seen getting it heavily wrapped right as the final buzzer sounded on Sunday. After the game, Patrick Beverley gave voice to the Rockets’ thoughts on resting down the stretch.
Pat Beverley said it's "BS" that players get rest. Unless ur hurt u should play.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) March 26, 2017
Rest has become such a dirty word, but seriously, what's left for the team to prove? They won't reach 60 wins this season, they won't lose the three seed and they won't gain more chemistry by playing in truly meaningless games.
In the NFL, this is a pretty accepted strategy. If a team locks up the playoff spot they want early and they decide to rest players no one gives it a second thought.
In basketball, especially this season, it's a much less accepted strategy, at least outside most locker rooms. In Cleveland, Golden State and San Antonio, maybe it’s accepted a little too much.
With the key goal to be healthy and fresh for the playoffs, and the Rockets seemingly refusing to rest up during games, they now have to find other ways to take a little time off and rejuvenate the body.
D'Antoni shared that the team is actually practicing less down the stretch. Last week the team had two days off, which D'Antoni said he's never done in his career before.
You won’t see many "DNP-Rests" on the box score in Houston, but the team will try to find pockets here and there to take a little bit of a break.