Sure, the Golden State Warriors want to be the top seed in the Western Conference and be assured of having the home-court edge through the conference playoffs.
But not if finishing first means brushing aside his team's health concerns, coach Steve Kerr said Sunday before the Warriors defeated the visiting Detroit Pistons 121-114.
The win put Golden State (50-23) one-half game ahead of the Denver Nuggets -- who lost to Indiana on Sunday -- in the conference standings, but the Warriors won without center DeMarcus Cousins and guard/forward Andre Iguodala, who were given the night off to rest.
It's hardly a new idea. On Saturday, while the Warriors were crushed 126-91 on their home court by the lowly Dallas Mavericks, they did not have Stephen Curry and Shaun Livingston, who were given the night off.
Kerr said Cousins is still recovering from last season's left Achilles tendon injury, which sidelined him until Jan. 18 of this season.
"With DeMarcus, we made the decision based on Rick's assessment he should just not play back-to-backs this season, so he's not going to," Kerr said, referring to Rick Celebrini, the Warriors' director of sports medicine and performance.
That means at least two more games Cousins will miss, because the Warriors have back-to-backs on April 4-5 and again to close out the regular season on April 9-10.
Kerr also said Celebrini advised that Curry needed some rest.
"Every once in a while, it'll just come up that Rick will recommend let's give somebody a rest," Kerr said. "Last night it was Steph. He's been going a couple months straight. Has looked a little tired the last couple of weeks, so it made perfect sense. I think we'll be better for it in the long run. So within all that, we try to win."
The Warriors have nine games remaining, and the Nuggets (49-23) have 10 games left, and the teams play each other April 2 in Oakland, Calif. That date is not part of a back-to-back for the Warriors, though it's the front end of one for Denver.
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said this week he would consider getting his key players some rest down the stretch, noting that the Warriors have a friendlier schedule down the stretch to claim the top spot in the conference.
The Houston Rockets are third in the conference, 3 1/2 games behind the Warriors.
--Field Level Media