Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett at Duke University for their first training camp with the Brooklyn Nets.
In order to prolong their longevity, the two future Hall of Famers must monitor their practice habits, listen to their bodies and utilize stoppages in play.
The Brooklyn Nets have the depth necessary to keep Garnett and Pierce well rested, and that should keep them effective as the season wears on. The fresher the two forwards feel, the easier it will be to elevate their games and handle the extra minutes the playoffs demand.
Younger players need to increase the amount of time they practice, but with the two veterans, less will be more.
The 37-year-old Garnett and the 35-year-old Pierce have been in the NBA for 18 and 15 years, respectively. If they were to decrease the duration of their workouts and exert less energy, they would be more explosive come game time.
Managing their time and effort will be key. As Garnett's trainer, Joe Abunassar, told Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling:
One thing about Kevin is that there's no in-between speed with him. It's either he's asleep or he's in full-go. He just works so hard, so I think the duration of his workouts and things like that have to be a little bit shorter now.
It may be difficult for KG to practice less, but if in so doing it helps keep him on the court, anchoring the defense at the end of games, it'll be worthwhile.
Both Pierce and Garnett have played with various injuries throughout their careers, but at this juncture, it may not be wise to push an ailing body too hard during the regular season.
Since Brooklyn has a couple of other stars in their starting lineup and reliable role players at the 3 and 4, Garnett and Pierce will be able to rest a little more than usual should they be banged up. Reggie Evans, Andray Blatche and Andrei Kirilenko can step in and be solid stopgaps as injuries heal.
Those three reserves should give Garnett and Pierce the confidence necessary to know they can play fewer minutes or sit games out when injured without worrying about letting their teammates down.
Pierce said the following about the Nets bench, which shows some of the trust he has gained in his teammates thus far.
With Evans, Blatche and Kirilenko on the depth chart, Brooklyn has the reserves necessary to keep Garnett and Pierce's minutes at a minimum.
Using the Clock
By subbing out Garnett and Pierce before media timeouts and the end of quarters, head coach Jason Kidd will be able to give his two aging stars an extra couple of minutes of rest. This may not always work, seeing as how media timeouts are predicated on dead balls after a set time, but it is exactly the kind of game-management nuances that Kidd will need to be master in order to get Garnett and Pierce the most rest possible.
Garnett and Pierce are far from injury prone, and they've demonstrated time and again the ability to withstand the rigors of the NBA season. But because of their age and experience, they are valuable assets who need to be coddled.
Kidd may have to use a time out or two a game just to give the two a blow, particularly as the season progresses. Kidd wanting to run an offense revolving around ball movement and spacing instead of relying on isolation sets will help; such an approach will be less physically demanding on Garnett and Pierce, which could allow them to get a few more minutes per game.
Ensuring that Garnett and Pierce have enough left in their tanks by the time the playoffs roll around might seem challenging, but with the two players adjusting their intensity levels in practice and allowing minor injuries to heal (as opposed to playing through pain), the odds are in their favor.