Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue will prioritise rest and health over securing the number one seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs.
The Cavs have held the top spot in the conference for the majority of the season but are now only a game and a half ahead of the second-placed Toronto Raptors.
Following their 124-91 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday, the Cavaliers moved to 50-20, reaching 50 wins for the ninth time in franchise history. The team has already sealed a playoff spot, becoming the only team in the east to do so thus far.
Lue said that although the team wants to finish at the top of the pack, it is more important to have an entire roster healthy to have the best opportunity at making another appearance in the NBA Finals.
In the 2015 playoffs, the Cavs lost Kevin Love in the first round and Kyrie Irving in the Finals due to injury and Lue doesn't want to exert too much energy out of his star players going down the stretch in order to battle for the top seed.
"We definitely want the No. 1 seed if we can get it, but I think we have to rest our guys also," Lue said after their Monday morning shootaround, via ESPN. "I think health going into the playoffs is more important than the seeding. If we're fortunate enough to get the No. 1 seed, it will be great for us. But if not, then we just got to play through it.
"I think all championship teams have to win on the road anyway. So, [the No. 1 seed is] important to us, but also being healthy going into the playoffs is more important."
Lue appears to have changed his tune and re-evaluated the team's goals for the remainder of the regular season after initially stating after the All-Star break that securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs was the "most important thing".
The Cavaliers head coach's changed stance could have something to do with the Raptors being hot on their heels. Cleveland has 12 games remaining, with six at home and six on the road, but Toronto holds the tie-breaker between the two teams, winning the season series 2-1. However, the Raptors have a slightly trickier schedule, with five home games and eight road games.
With three more back-to-backs in this campaign, Lue has pencilled these in as the perfect chance to get players some rest.
"I think it's the smartest way," Lue said. "Back-to-backs, they are hard on your body."
The Cavs' first back-to-back begins on Wednesday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks and follow that up with a trip to face the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.