Great Debate: Will The Warriors’ Regular Season Brilliance Hurt Their Post-Season Run?

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Great Debate: Will The Warriors’ Regular Season Brilliance Hurt Their Post-Season Run?

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 Warriors Have No Right To Steal History Away From Fans By Sitting Stars

by Tyler Crum

On Sunday night, the game that’s been sparking headlines and speculation for weeks on end finally came to be. A legendary bout pitting an unstoppable Golden State team and its quest for 73 wins against the San Antonio Spurs, who were looking to round out their own storied season by becoming the first team in NBA history to go undefeated at home.

The veteran Spurs, who prided themselves on having the best defense in the league, hadn’t lost to Golden State at home since Steph Curry was (presumably) crossing over his elementary school classmates. They handled the phenomenal Warrior offense pretty well the last time the teams met in the AT&T Center, holding them to a season-low 79 points in a rare Warrior loss.

Defense once again stole the show on Sunday night, as San Antonio held the Warriors to just 35 in the first half. But the Warriors’ defense played tremendously as well, and in the end, the Warriors — with a 37-point performance and all of the usual magic from Curry — emerged on top in one of the year’s most exciting games. Now, a home game against Memphis is the only thing standing between the Warriors and NBA immortality.

Hard-fought games, the pursuit of all-time records and the opportunity for all of those involved to witness history in the making — that is what the final games of the regular season should be about, which is why it completely baffles me that people would rather forgo a memorable showdown between two of the league’s most talented teams in favor of resting the starters and having the guys on the bench duke it out.

Thankfully, in Sunday night’s game both teams’ stars saw plenty of action and the result was an entertaining game and one for the history books. There was the notable absence of Tim Duncan, the future Hall-of-Famer who undoubtedly would have helped bolster the Spurs defense, but the 39-year old Duncan has been dealing with a sore knee for several weeks, so I am not shocked that Spurs’ coach Greg Popovich elected to keep him out of the game.

A lot of people are surprised that Popovich didn’t do more than rest Duncan, since he has made it clear that he cares less about records and more about winning championships. Looking at the records, both teams were mathematically locked into their first and second place spots atop the Western Conference and technically didn’t need to play their stars that night.

Would it have been a shame if a starter on either team had gotten hurt? Of course, but that’s the nature of basketball, and I think Popovich has enough respect for the game to go out and put the best team out on the court, with all intentions of winning no matter who the opponent is or what the team’s record is.

Teams — especially good ones like Golden State and San Antonio that should easily make it to the playoffs for at least the next season — have no right to throw aside history so lackadaisically and need to remember who’s in charge: the fans.

Professional sports are part of the entertainment industry and are therefore primarily responsible for bending to the will of the fans. I can guarantee that fans of both teams would be much more excited to see their team making the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become part of basketball legend than watching the rookies and bench players of two playoff-bound teams square off in a meaningless contest.

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@tylerfcrum

 

Sitting Players Best Strategy For Warriors, Teams In Hunt For Championships 

by Brock Jensen

Sports shows around the nation have been asking: What is the correct philosophy for a head coach in a position similar to what the Golden State Warriors have been in at the end of this season? Of course, while the quest for the greatest regular-season record of all time is a significant one, it is not the ultimate goal.

The ultimate goal is to win a championship, and that is why I think the players should be resting rather than going all out for a regular season record. I know I am probably in the minority by taking this position, but I believe a further look at the reasons behind it give it validity.

The first reason that I believe players should be rested before the postseason is simply that — they need rest. Eighty-two games is a lot for a single campaign. The wear and tear that players undergo during the course of the season is real and prevalent throughout the league. Yes, these players are professional athletes, but in order for them to play at their full potential for the playoffs, they need to make sure their bodies are healthy and well taken care of.

Injuries are also closely related to this rest. You see this happen in a lot of other sports, particularly the NFL. After a team has secured a playoff position, a similar debate comes up. Should that NFL team rest its players or keep them playing to make sure they don’t get rusty? It’s a valid argument for both sides and that’s why this debate over Golden State’s decision is relevant.

Simply put, injuries are much more likely to occur with a player on the court than off of it. I know that opens up a Pandora’s box argument with examples like people should never drive a car because then they’ll never get in a crash, however, what needs to be examined is controlling the necessary amount of risk.

Is the ultimate goal of the Warriors, to be the best regular-season team of all time or to win back-to-back championships? Obviously, that is a loaded question, but the point is any team that faces a similar position should strongly consider resting its players rather than playing them. The argument is that rest gives the team a better opportunity to compete at its full potential in the postseason rather than having a regular season record but coming off of it with tired legs.

The last point I want to make is that historically, this strategy has worked. Think about the coaches known for this type of philosophy. The first ones that come to mind are, of course, Gregg Popovich in the NBA and Bill Belichick in the NFL. Regardless of my own and others’ feelings about these coaches and the teams they lead, the Spurs and Patriots are consistent winners. They are always in the hunt for a championship in their respective leagues and are regularly found in the postseason.

Clearly, there are plenty of other factors that come into play to determine how good a team is, but these coaches know a thing or two about getting their teams ready for the postseason. One of those is making sure their players are healthy and adequately rested for the run that gets them to their ultimate goal of winning a championship.

Resting versus playing in situations like the Warriors’ will continue to be a popular debate, but I believe giving your team the best chance to win a championship should be the most important thing on a coach’s mind. If that means resting players, then that’s what has to be done.

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@brock_jensen02