REST FOR THE WICKED
Barry Laminack: The Rockets need to start resting players NOW
With all the talk of landing the No. 1 seed going on in this town and in Oakland, it's probably not the most popular opinion to have but I think the Rockets need to start resting players.
At the very least they need to start cutting back on James Harden and Chris Paul's minutes (and for that matter Clint Capela’s, too).
I understand that the one seed is important, but with all of the teams sitting at three through eight only being separated by 4fourgames, there really isn’t that much of a difference between the rest of the West (and while I still say Portland is a scary out, after that no other team in the west below Portland should scare the Rockets).
Let's be honest, at this point the Rockets and Warriors are on a crash course to face each other in the conference finals anway, and while home court advantage is important, both of these teams are capable of stealing one on the road and capturing the home court advantage that is being so coveted right now.
Watching Chris Paul grab the back of his leg and limp around two nights at the end of the Portland game is when it hit me.
Add to that James Harden getting banged around on a nightly basis and Capela’s sprained thumb and it’s clear to me that at some point the Rockets have to look over at the Warriors, see how banged up their squad is and takes steps to avoid the injury issues they are suffering through right now.
Especially with the playoffs right around the corner.
Now is the perfect time to scale back on the minutes of Harden, Paul and Capela. 20 to 25 minutes a each would be great (and no, there's little chance that doing so would cost Harden is MVP).
If you’re still not convinced this is the right thing to do, need I remind you the big complaint from everyone as the Rockets got bounced from the playoffs last year was how “tired’ Harden looked?
Hell, I’d even be good (ok, great) with Harden and CP3 sitting out a few games between now and the playoffs. I’m not so sure the Warriors can catch the Rockets at this point anyway - what with all the problems they are having - plus the 2 teams having similar remaining strength of schedules favors the Rockets 4 game lead as well. So with teams like Atlanta, Phoenix, Chicago and Sacramento left on the schedule, any of these games would be the perfect time to sit Paul and/or Harden in hopes of letting them get as close to 100 percent as possible.