Tyronn Lue is placing a higher premium on health than home-court advantage as the playoffs draw near.
With 13 games remaining in the regular season and his team clinging to a one-game lead in the Eastern Conference standings, the Cleveland Cavaliers head coach has shifted his stance on securing the top seed, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com.
"We definitely want the No. 1 seed if we can get it, but I think we have to rest our guys also," Lue said Monday after the team's shootaround, per McMenamin. "I think health going into the playoffs is more important than the seeding. If we're fortunate enough to get the No. 1 seed, it will be great for us. But if not, then we just got to play through it."
At 49-20, the Cavs' only true threat for the East's top seed is the Toronto Raptors, who sit a game back and hold the tiebreaker over Cleveland after winning the season series 2-1. The third-place Atlanta Hawks are 8.5 games back, and Cleveland swept them in the Eastern Conference Finals last year as the No. 2 seed.
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Lue isn't overly concerned about the prospect of playing on the road, as he knows the Cavs will have to win away from home if they hope to accomplish their ultimate goal of bringing Cleveland its first NBA title.
"I think all championship teams have to win on the road anyway," Lue said, per McMenamin. "So [the No. 1 seed is] important to us, but also being healthy going into the playoffs is more important."
Health is critical in the playoffs, where Cleveland will need to win 16 games over the course of nearly two months and four series if it hopes to accomplish its goal.
Anything other than claiming a ring would be considered a failure, especially after James returned to his hometown team prior to the 2014-15 season. The Eastern Conference isn't nearly as top-heavy as the West, so preserving the health of the team's top talent, even if it results in losing the No. 1 seed, is a wise idea.
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