CLEVELAND -- With the No. 1 seed in the East locked up a couple of days ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers came into Wednesday's 112-110 overtime loss against the Detroit Pistons with a simple plan: Don't have anything stupid happen.
With that in mind, the Cavs' public relations staff informed reporters after the shootaround Wednesday morning that nearly half the team -- LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Mo Williams -- would be sitting out the regular-season finale later that evening.
Considering the Pistons will be Cleveland's first-round opponent this weekend, the intention made even more sense. Not only would the Cavs protect their health, they also would not show their hand and give the Detroit scouts anything they could take with them to prepare for Game 1.
Simple enough, right?
Not exactly. Sometime after the rest program was put in place, Irving went through an intense post-shootaround individual workout and let the Cavs' brass know that he had an alternative proposal for himself: He wanted to play.
Irving, coming off a season-high 35 points on 14-of-28 shooting Monday in a win over the Atlanta Hawks, wanted to build on that momentum. Before his breakout game against the Hawks, Irving struggled mightily, shooting 45-for-126 (35.7 percent) in seven games prior to that.
Also, after missing 26 of the Cavs' first 30 games of the season while recovering from offseason surgery on his left knee, Irving made a proclamation in late December that he intended to appear in every game for the rest of the season. He honored it all the way until early April, when he missed a game against Charlotte because of a bum ankle.
When reporters arrived at Quicken Loans Arena three hours prior to tipoff, there was an "updated injury report" distributed in the press room. Irving's name was not included. When asked about it, a Cavs spokesman said Irving would start the game.
About an hour after that, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue held his pregame media availability and was asked about the change in Irving's status. The story changed once again.
"It hasn't been determined yet," Lue said. "He's going to be on the active roster."
Lue was then asked what he was waiting for to make the determination.
"Not waiting on anything, just hasn't been determined yet and we'll see when he gets here," Lue said. "He wanted to play, but we want to sit down and talk to him, but it hasn't been determined yet."
When pressed further about the odd situation, Lue said, "You have to talk to Kyrie about it."
The locker room opened up for reporters to enter about 20 minutes after that. Irving, who on most occasions makes himself scarce during the pregame availability window, sat in front of his locker and entertained questions about what was going on.
"I'm not playing tonight," he said. "I'm not logging any minutes. I will be in uniform out there to support my teammates. It was more or less a conversation I wanted to have with [general manager David] Griffin and T-Lue. I wanted to go out there and play for the last game of the season. [It's] fan-appreciation night. Also, more or less one more game wouldn't hurt and I felt that way and we kind of voiced our concerns and just made an executive decision. I trust them and they trust me. I'll be in uniform tonight, but I won't be playing."
There were a couple of signs that could have been construed as clues that Irving really wanted to play, despite his resignation. For one, he had a pair of splashy Nike Kobe 5 "Prelude" sneakers in front on his locker and later that night his idol, Kobe Bryant, would play his final game for the Los Angeles Lakers. Also, he came into the night averaging 19.6 points per game. Dropping 39 points would give him a 20-point average for the season. Reporters speculated that reaching that average in such a challenging season could be a point of pride for Irving, or perhaps even activate some sort of incentive in his contract.
Nevertheless, Irving did not play. He cheered like hell on the bench, while wearing his warmups over his uniform, as Jordan McRae scored 36 points and dished out seven assists to bring the Cavs back from a 17-point deficit before they fell in overtime.
After the game, Irving still got to do his part for fan-appreciation night, handing his game-worn jersey (if not game-used) to one fan and his sneakers to another. And he still got to celebrate Bryant, watching the opening quarter of the Lakers game in the Cavs' locker room, getting up out of his seat to cheer when Bryant knocked down five straight field-goal attempts at one point.
Lue was asked after the game, "What happened with Irving, exactly?"
"Just, he's trying to get his rhythm," Lue said. "I just thought this wasn't a good game to try. He had a great game last game. It's just too risky. If you're feeling good, your body is great, why risk it? Why chance it? It wasn't a smart move, to me. You always want to give the player the benefit of the doubt for wanting to play because you get paid to play, but in this situation, I didn't think it was smart."
Ultimately, nothing stupid happened Wednesday for the Cavs. Irving and the rest of their players -- save for Shumpert and Williams, who are dealing with knee injuries -- will enter the playoffs fully healthy.
But there was some silliness going on.