What the NBA needs to do is have a longer regular season. Because this, on fan appreciation night, is fantastic: Paul George, David West, Roy Hibbert and George Hill are all sitting out tonight.
Hill, George, West and Hibbert all out tonight vs 76ers. Starters: Augustin, Stephenson, Green, Hansbrough and Mahinmi.
— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) April 17, 2013
Lance Stephenson, DJ Augustin, Gerald Green, Tyler Hansbrough and Ian Mahinmi will start. Lance and Gerald, presumably, will combine for 58 shots.
I mean not to criticize the move.
It’s the only logical thing to do; Indiana has wrapped up the three seed and cannot improved their playoff position. The outcome of this, their 81st and final game of the year, has no bearing on anything other than the team hitting the somewhat-arbitrary-but-cool-round-number 50-win mark.
If they do win, it will be the first time the Pacers have won 50 games in a season since 2003-04. It will also be just the sixth time the franchise has done so since entering the NBA in 1976. (Note: Winning percentage-wise, Indiana also would have won 50 two other times, during the 1998-99 and 2011-12 lockout years.)
In related news, every other team in the NBA that is playing tonight is also sitting marque players.
For Indiana, the only relevant team doing so is the Atlanta Hawks.
The ATL crew are playing the Knicks and seem to be conceding the five seed to the Bulls. Had the Hawks won tonight and the Bulls lost tonight to the Wizards, then Atlanta could have gotten the five seed.
Then again, the Knicks are sitting their best players, too, so perhaps it still works out that way.
Either way, the matchups will soon be cemented, and we will find out exactly when the Pacers will play whoever this weekend.