Cavs coach Mike Brown said today at shooataround that LeBron and Shaq
won’t play tonight.
Woody said he hadn’t made up his mind: “Game-time decision.” But chances are Hawks starters won’t play or get only token minutes considering the Hawks can’t improve their playoff seeding and that’s the way Woody approached last season’s finale under similar circumstances.
(EDIT: In pregame, Woody said Marvin would start alongside Teague, Joe Smith, and Zaza.)
The consensus among Hawks players is they’re fine with sitting.
“If anything, it helps after such a long season, Al said.
For Brown, the main motivation behind sitting LeBron and Shaq is to avoid injury. “That had a lot to do with it,” he said.
This will be the fourth healthy scratch in a row for LeBron. Shaq just recently was cleared to return after missing six weeks with a thumb injury.
The Cavs will enter the playoffs with their full lineup of LeBron, Shaq, Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison and Anthony Parker having played together for just three full games. Brown wasn’t ready to say that’s not a worry because his team is so veteran.
“You worry,” Brown said. “As a coach you worry about a lot of things. You hope your worries don’t come true.”
After the shootaround, LeBron joked about whether his Atlanta fans want to see him play. Yeah, they do, and by the way does he feel for fans who bought tickets to games to see him as the main attraction? He shook his head: “I’ve played in every arena this year.”
That’s true, though I doubt it’s much solace for his fans who picked the wrong game to buy tickets. Some advice for those fans: If you want to see a star player on a good team, and his final visit is scheduled within the last week or so, best to catch him the first time he comes to town.
– There’s a feeling among the Hawks that the Heat might not go all out to beat the Nets tonight because Miami would rather face the Hawks than the Celtics. That’s not hard to believe. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says manipulating the seeding would be “messing with the basketball gods” but, depending on how many lines you want to read between, the Hawks’ suspicions can be confirmed by looking at this Miami Herald story by Izzy:
Jermaine O’Neal, who missed one game and started only five against the Hawks (in the playoffs) last year because of a concussion, said the difference between the Hawks and Celtics is predictability.
“[The Hawks] can put you in a tough situation, especially in Atlanta,” O’Neal said. “They play at another level. But you never really know what to expect with those guys. But with Boston, you know it’s going to be very physical, it’s going to be a grind-out type of a game, every-possession-counts type of a game. So it’s kind of like, pick your poison, really.”
Of course, even if the Heat tanked it would need the Bucks to beat Boston tonight to “secure” the No. 6 seed. That should happen since the Celtics are likely to rest their starters, too, but you never know. Maybe the Bucks want the Hawks, too.