INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- With just 13 games remaining in the regular season, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue has re-prioritized his team goals as he tries to prepare Cleveland for a repeat run to the NBA Finals.
Lue said Monday that he will prioritize resting his players above the race for the Eastern Conference's top spot going down the stretch.
"We definitely want the No. 1 seed if we can get it, but I think we have to rest our guys also," Lue said after the team's shootaround Monday morning. "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.
"I think all championship teams have to win on the road anyway. So, [the No. 1 seed is] important to us, but also being healthy going into the playoffs is more important."
Cleveland currently has a one-game lead over the Toronto Raptors in the East. Toronto owns the tiebreaker, winning the season series 2-1 over the Cavs.
However, seven of Cleveland's remaining games are at home and six are on the road, while the Raptors have a less favorable mix of five home games and eight road games left.
Lue's stance is a departure from his previous outlook, when he told reporters coming out of the All-Star break that the "most important thing" for the Cavs would be to secure home-court advantage in the East throughout the playoffs.
Lue's new approach also jibes with LeBron James' mentality when it comes to seeding.
Late last season, after former coach David Blatt said the Cavs "got to" finish with the No. 2 spot in the East, James disagreed with the directive, saying "I never play for seeding. I just play ... Just get me in the playoffs."
Lue said that Channing Frye will start in Love's place if his symptoms prevent him from playing.
Cleveland has three more sets of back-to-backs this season -- this week at home Wednesday against Milwaukee followed by a road game in Brooklyn on Thursday; March 31 at home against Brooklyn followed by a road game in Atlanta; and finally a road double dip on April 5 in Milwaukee and April 6 in Indiana. Lue said he will circle those pairs of games as potential rest opportunities.
"I think it's the smartest way," Lue said. "Back-to-backs, they are hard on your body."