NBA: Warriors straddling thin line between rest and readiness

Warriors guard Stephen Curry and his team-mates have been recuperating ahead of the NBA Finals but the extended break could be a double-edged sword.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry and his team-mates have been recuperating ahead of the NBA Finals but the extended break could be a double-edged sword.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • The Golden State Warriors entered last year's NBA (National Basketball Association) Finals under-rested and overwhelmed.

Plagued by questions about Stephen Curry's dodgy knee and Draymond Green's kicks to the groin , they had just two days off before the Finals.

Did a lack of rest ultimately play a role in their breakdown? Perhaps this year's Warriors will answer that question.

In a remarkable reversal of fortune, after finishing their jog to this year's NBA Finals 12-0, the Warriors were given nine days to rest and recuperate before Warriors-Cavaliers III starts tomorrow.

In an NBA regular and post-season spanning almost eight months, with constant travel and numerous off-the-court concerns, rest is a valuable commodity.

In fact, much of the sports science in the NBA - biometric technology - is dedicated to calculating a player's need for recovery.

Much to the NBA commissioner's consternation, both the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers rested star players down the stretch.

  • Days of rest Golden State will have before they begin their Finals series, three more than Cleveland.

This year, the Warriors hold the recuperation edge over the Cavaliers, giving them an extra three days to heal the bumps, bruises and strains of a 94-game season.

Andre Iguodala and Zaza Pachulia will perhaps most benefit, allowing them to nurse injuries suffered in the play-offs.

"Basketball is a high-intensity sport and players usually don't get that much time to recover, but nine days of time off will help with the muscle soreness, muscle damage and fatigue that's usually present during the normal NBA schedule," said Bill Burgos, head of strength and conditioning for the Orlando Magic and a member of the NBA sports science committee .

But is it too much of a good thing? Will all that rest work to the Warriors' advantage or leave them out of sync and flat?

In his address to the media last Thursday, Warriors interim head coach Mike Brown emphasised it was important to strike a balance.

"The biggest thing is you don't want to have too much contact, just because you don't want to risk anybody getting injured," he said.

But he also felt that, in order to stay sharp, some contact is needed.

"You do need to have some, and so there is a fine balance of how much time to give off because also you don't want to (make players) practise every single day," he said.

The challenge for Brown is how to optimise recovery while keeping the team sharp. 

With extensive time off between games, it is important to maintain the routine and structure of the season, yet give players the mental and physical break they need.

 "It's a fine line, teams are always toeing the line," said Mubarak Malik, director of performance for the New York Knicks.

The problem is, the less you play, the harder it is to stay sharp.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Warriors straddling thin line between rest and readiness'. Print Edition | Subscribe