Why the NBA’s new rest policy actually may benefit Celtics

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Why the NBA’s new rest policy actually may benefit Celtics originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The NBA is instituting a new player resting policy this season aimed at curbing load management, particularly in marquee games, but the new rules seem unlikely to dramatically impact the Boston Celtics and their gamer stars.

The NBA’s board of governors approved a plan Wednesday that will allow the league to fine teams, most notably in instances where multiple recent All-Stars are rested in the same game.

At the start the 2023-24 season, the only Celtics who are expected to fall into the “star” criteria — having earned an All-Star or All-NBA appearance in previous three seasons — will be Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Both players have routinely fought against load management opportunities and have further motivation to stay on the court this season with the NBA also set to require players to appear in 65 games to be eligible for a variety of end-of-season awards.

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The Tatum/Brown combo missed just one game last season in which they were both rested without an apparent injury, and that was Boston’s regular-season finale. ESPN reported that the league will afford lenience in various circumstances, including end-of-the-season rest.

The Celtics are more likely to prioritize rest for their big men like Kristaps Porzingis, Al Horford, and Robert Williams III. Both Porzingis and Horford were last All-Stars in 2018, removing them from the star designation.

Boston still could rest Horford on the second night of back-to-backs without fear of penalty. If Porzingis were to earn All-Star status during this upcoming season, it could complicate the ability to rest him and one of the Jays the following season, but that wouldn’t be the worst problem for Boston to have to navigate.

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In fact, we’d go so far as to suggest the new rules could highly benefit a Boston team that has routinely played down when opposing superstars were missing from rival squads in recent seasons.

Tatum has missed eight games or fewer in four of his six NBA seasons. He’s often yearned to be on the court, particularly against marquee competition. Brown has missed more time but often due to legitimate injuries like multiple hamstring strains.

The Celtics’ biggest issue is often trying to convince Tatum and Brown to play fewer minutes to ensure their freshness later in the season.

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Examining Boston’s 2023-24 slate, there are limited instances where the new rules might even come into play for the Celtics. There are some back-to-backs that could create interesting decisions about resting talent, but in January for instance, the second night of those matchups feature marquee games against teams like Milwaukee and Dallas, which would deter Boston’s stars from seeking rest in those instances.

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The bottom line is that Boston is well-positioned to rest the players who more likely will need games off, while its stars can still receive the robust workloads that have become their calling card.

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