Jeremy Lin returned to the Charlotte Hornets lineup against Philadelphia after sitting out a single game with back issues. Lin played well in his return, continuing his solid play as a reserve. He shot 4-of-8, dished six assists and grabbed four boards in just 24 minutes. But a key stat could indicate Lin's minutes will shrink in the playoffs. Here's the stat: Lin's 24 minutes were split evenly between the point guard and shooting guard spots -- 12 minutes each. If Lin were getting those minutes at one position, he'd be likely to see continued similar usage in the playoffs. But he's getting his minutes piecemeal at each position. When the starters' minutes expand as they usually do during the playoffs, Lin's opportunities could be limited in both spots -- especially if Kemba Walker plays most of the game at point guard.
NBA rotations tend to get leaner during the playoffs, as coaches rely more heavily on their core group of contributors. The long regular season means managing minutes for the team's top players, but it's do-or-die in the playoffs, and less reason to conserve energy. Both Walker's and starting shooting guard Courtney Lee's minutes will likely increase as Charlotte contends in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
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