Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The chicken or the egg?
Nature vs. Nurture.
Kirk or Picard.
These philosophical arguments have been engrained in our culture for centuries, or, with that last one, decades. There really doesn't seem to be a correct answer.
In the world of professional sports, elite teams have worries, too. For the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks, the biggest concerns heading into the postseason appear to be how they'll handle this final week-plus stretch of the regular season.
Do they rest their key guys or keep them playing so they don't lose rhythm?
Again, there isn't really a correct answer. Truthfully, the correct answer doesn't appear until the outcome when history writes itself. The winner's strategy is ultimately the best.
The argument for rest is simple. The NBA season began for most in November, but camp opened long before that. For some members of these teams, the calendar never offered off time because of the World Cup.
Pro athletes get tired. Sitting them for optimum freshness makes a lot of sense. There can be no discussion when it comes to players with either serious or nagging injuries. No one can question the motivation for sitting those guys, except Doc Rivers.
The rhythm side is equally valid. The margin for error in the postseason is slim. If it takes a higher seed just one game to get into a flow, that could be mean tee times.
These two teams are the embodiement of the debate.
The Warriors are playing healthy guys at this point. Draymond Green is banged up, so he's been out, much to the hilarity of both Rivers and Steve Kerr.
Steph Curry is probably going to be the NBA's MVP, but he played 33 minutes Thursday night versus the Phoenix Suns. Klay Thompson, an All-Star and the possible NBA Most Improved Player, logged 32 minutes. They both played over 35 minutes versus the Los Angeles Clippers earlier in the week.
Clearly, Kerr believes his troops need to keep playing. There's also the fact Golden State has its eye on the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs, something the Warriors haven't clinched as of yet.
To be fair, the starters have sat against the Denver Nuggets. That's an important factor, the strength of the opponent.
Mike Budenholzer has taken a slightly different tact with the Hawks. He sat his starters against the Charlotte Hornets and lost by 15. He brought them back, beat Milwaukee and had them in the lineup versus the Pistons and fell by 10.
Atlanta has a few more injury issues to deal with than Golden State. Jeff Teague is dinged up. Kyle Korver is wearing a mask and it isn't Halloween, nor is he fighting crime. Dennis Schroder is out. Mike Scott is out. So Budenholzer has a smaller deck of cards at his disposal.
Kerr is trying a bit of a balancing act. His team has won 11 straight games, so there's clearly a lot of momentum. He doesn't want to ruin that, but he'll probably sit more guys as the playoffs loom closer.
The Hawks went just 9-7 in the month of March. They aren't clicking on all cylinders and there's a perception, one the Hawks wouldn't articulate, that Atlanta is just not good enough to withstand LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Hawks need to play better heading into the postseason.
Kerr may shut the Warriors down when the streak ends. Curry and Thompson both played in Spain this summer. They have to be gassed. He will need to find more rest for the Splash Brothers, especially because one will be chasing Russell Westbrook around in the first round.
Every case is singluar. To me, Atlanta needs to keep playing starters until they play a bit better. Golden State is going to need rest. The Warriors have been the hunted from the tip, so they're taking everyone's best punch every night.
The ideal situation is probably to mix both. Maybe Kerr puts Curry and Green in street clothes one night, Thompson and Andrew Bogut the next, and Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes the following game. Eventually, it could even help in case of an injury. Rotations may change and different lineups the next 12 days could smooth that out in the unfortunate circumstance of injury.
These are tricky decisions, but it's why Kerr and Budenholzer will finish Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in NBA Coach of the Year voting. There's no right or wrong answer, until one of them loses.
- Reports say Florida's Billy Donovan will field offers for NBA jobs. Same deal as John Calipari - he can probably do it better than he could have years ago, but there won't be many openings.
- Remember when Donovan was the head coach of the Orlando Magic?
- Should be a great Final Four for NBA fans with somewhere between five and seven potential first-round picks among the four teams.
- I'd still take Jahlil Okafor from Duke first. I love his offensive game, but I won't stage a protest if you like Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns or Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell.
- Kerr will be first and Budenholzer second in the coach of the year voting. I expect Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics and Jason Kidd of the Milwaukee Bucks to do all right, but don't sleep on David Blatt of the Cavs. He's relented some and stepping back has helped considerably. Plus, Blatt isn't afraid to sit someone like Kevin Love if it's best for the defensive success of the team.
- Movie moment - "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2." Come on, America. we are better than this.
- TV moment - I was legitimately excited when I read Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig were doing a Lifetime movie, then legitimately bummed that they decided to cancel because it was supposed to be top-secret and it got leaked. Please. Let's have fun. I know that was the idea, but don't bail on it because it was leaked.