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Lillard and McCollum will rest vs. Kings

The Trail Blazers starting backcourt will not play in the team’s regular season finale against the Kings.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will not play in the Trail Blazers’ regular season finale against the Kings, the team announced, citing “load management.”

The Blazers are making a clear choice to prioritize rest over playoff positioning. With a win they could potentially move into the 3-seed and avoid a hypothetical matchup with the Warriors in the second round. As the 3-seed the Blazers would play either the Thunder or Spurs in the first round.

A loss tonight will push the Blazers back down to fourth in the west, setting up a first round match-up with the Jazz, who are locked into fifth.

The outcome of the Blazers game has longer reaching effects for the Western Conference — the Rockets could fall to fourth if both the Blazers and Nuggets win, but a loss by either team guarantees Houston a top three seed and also helps them avoid the Warriors until the conference finals.