The Cleveland Cavaliers’ magic number to clinch to the No. 1 in the Eastern Conference is down to just two - meaning if the Cavaliers in Friday and the Celtics lose Saturday against the Hornets, the Cleveland locks the No. 1 seed up.
And while he would like to rest LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue won’t do until then.
“If we can take care of business like we’re supposed to, I’d definitely like to get Kyrie and LeBron some more rest,” he said at his pregame media availability.
Lue also noted that he doesn’t plan to rest Kyle Korver, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith if/when the Cavs clinch the No. 1 seed. All three players have missed significant time this season due to injury.
"I think J.R. (Smith) and (Kyle) Korver and Kevin (Love) and those guys should play a little bit because they've been out for so long and just try to keep J.R.'s rhythm and establish Kevin's rhythm and the same thing with Kyle,” he said.
Asked if the Cavs would continue to play LeBron and Kyrie until the team clinches the top seed, Lue was direct.
“Yes,” he said.
If the Cavs do ultimately clinch tomorrow, the team could potentially rest LeBron and Kyrie for three games before the playoffs.
The Cavs getting LeBron and Kyrie rest before the playoffs is probably ideal, as they’ve played a lot of minutes, haven’t missed any long stretches due to injury and will need to play at their best for the Cavs to repeat.
But it’s also good that Korver, Love and Smith all may continue to play the rest of the year whether or not the Cavs finish with the top seed in the East. And if they do, Cleveland can, in theory, get the best of all worlds: home court advantage in the East, rest for LeBron and Kyrie and reps for Love, Korver and Smith.