Having already clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference, how should the Atlanta Hawks play their rotation during the final seven-game stretch remaining on the schedule? Should Coach Mike Budenholzer play his starters the normal amount of minutes, should he play them half of each game, or should he just rest them? Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, Coach Budenholzer played his starters for 24 minutes, which is half of an NBA game. He experimented with what is called “mass substitutions” which means the starters would play and then five bench players would sub in. The experiment did not go well on paper, as Atlanta lost to Detroit 105-95. Even though the Hawks lost the game, I see positives in what Coach Bud did with his team. Not only did the starters get some rest while being able to stay in rhythm, but I love the fact that the bench players got to play more minutes than they are accustomed to.
During the playoffs, NBA championship caliber teams have to depend on their bench throughout a seven game series. With the bench players getting more minutes than usual, it forces them to face better competition than what they are used to. The bench had to play against Detroit’s starting lineup for a good part of the game, and I hope Atlanta will continue this operation for a couple of the remaining games in the regular season. While I enjoy the starters getting their rest, I still hope they can play 2-4 more games like a playoff game. I want to see Atlanta demolish one opponent before the playoffs begin, and why is that important? It is because this team needs confidence heading into the postseason. This team needs to keep their groove going because once the playoffs begin, the regular season does not mean anything anymore. So even though Atlanta lost the game, I still love this idea. With Golden State winning every game, the Hawks realistically will not get the top seed in the NBA. Mike Budenholzer is the favorite to win the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. He was in a playoff rich Spurs organization for 19 years. He knows what he is doing.