After the win against the Miami Heat, Steve Kerr dropped a "dog days" reference to the long season in his post-game presser as many times as Mark Jackson would preach a "this is a no excuses basketball team" in a single response. Later in the locker room, David Lee elicited a few laughs when he poked a little fun at the whole "dog days" portion of the schedule. Unfortunately, it's not so much a joke as much as an integral aspect of the regular season that begs to be maneuvered around rather than stubbornly trudged throughout.
The very next game, Kerr sat Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut, citing reasons of rest and nothing more. Against the Oklahoma City Thunder, some bellowed against the timing. And what if the Thunder of San Antonio Spurs dropped into the lower seeds, forcing the Golden State Warriors to match up against them in the first round? That's a chance Kerr was willing to take, provided his horses, and in this case, best defenders in the paint and perimeter were ready for that challenge. I'm not sure how much concrete evidence there is to support the fact that rest is good for players with bad knees and joints like Iguodala and Bogut but it would appear to be common sense.
And although Kerr maintains this is for the betterment of the specific players he's keeping on the bench, there are also other excellent reasons why this should remain effective - regardless of the Thunder loss.
1. Stephen Curry has only played 40+ minutes in four games this season. Compare that to the 24 times he reached the 40-minute plateau and it would assuredly help his legs if the Warriors are to make a deep postseason run. It also speaks to how excellent he's been given his MVP-type numbers in only 33 minutes per game. It's shrewd to say that's all that matters but if Kerr can keep Curry fresh and healthy (key being not worn down at the end), then losing the chance at the one seed is worth it.
2. Kerr loves to experiment with lineups and taking several core players out of the rotation allows him to inject either youth or legs that need conditioning into games. He rested Shaun Livingston for a couple games and got Leandro Barbosa in there. Despite mixed results, the process was warranted and a refreshing way to handle veteran players. In the beginning of the season, he threw Brandon Rush into lineups with the starters to try and get him going. Justin Holiday has progressed from the 12th man to the first or second man off the bench against smaller teams. In an 82-game season that forces coaches to constantly adjust, Kerr loves to keep tinkering despite the team's overwhelming success.
3. Playing and resting veterans despite their struggles or success can play a huge role later into the season. Barbosa has been just about the worst Warrior to step on the court this side of Ognjen Kuzmic. Livingston has been more down than up after a stretch where he made just about every turnaround midrange jumper possible. Iguodala, despite his defensive prowess, has been mostly cringe-worthy on offense. But Kerr knows there might be a time when desperation will force his hand. Just because certain players haven't been up to snuff doesn't necessarily mean their home becomes the end of the bench. Kerr has flipped Stephen Curry's substitution patterns to juice up the bench and to open up spacing for struggling players like Barbosa. Whether it works or not isn't the point. This team runs teams over most nights with their B-effort. The most important part if this team keeps playing like this is how Steve Kerr maintains the engine on each individual player. Keeping guys like Barbosa, Livingston, and Holiday in playing condition isn't a bad idea, either.