Just prior to the All-Star break when Nick Gallo asked OKC Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari what he had planned, the answer was rest.
Playing a full season NBA basketball is not an easy task. 82 games of professional-level sport in less than six months takes a toll on your body. You cross time-zones, play in different altitudes and it is hard. Danilo Gallinari of the OKC Thunder is a true example of this.
Gallinari is a super-talented player who has been plagued with injury throughout his career. Having a month off prior to the playoffs will refresh the 6’10” power forward. Given the schedule the OKC Thunder has coming up, rest is going to be critical.
Given that the Thunder played 17 games in January, which is the most allowed for a month, rest is crucial at this point. The upcoming future for the Thunder is not much better with ten of their last 18 games being on the road.
The Thunder also have three back to backs left for the season, assuming that the schedule will just pick up when games are allowed to be played again. The first back to back is against the Memphis Grizzlies, followed by the Atlanta Hawks.
Gallinari could potentially sit the second game as Darius Bazley should be back in the lineup by then. However, in the last seven games, the OKC Thunder has two back to backs which is tough at the end of the season.
Depending on the result of the first night of the Los Angeles back to back, Gallinari could sit the second night. However, the last back to back, Gallinari would sit the first night against the New York Knicks and then play against the Grizzlies.
However, with the rest he is getting now, Gallinari might be able to play every game, giving the OKC Thunder the best chance at the fourth seed, or even the third seed. Home court advantage must be the goal, and with the way this team is playing, they could potentially catch the Denver Nuggets.
The difference between the third and fourth seed is who you play in the second round. At the moment it is a decision between one Los Angeles team or another. My sneaky suspicion is the OKC Thunder would prefer the Los Angeles Lakers over the Los Angeles Clippers due to matching up better.
Danilo Gallinari and his health will determine a lot of this, including how the OKC Thunder will perform in the first round. We will know more when basketball resumes.