The Thunder played in Toronto on Monday, and with their place as the West's No. 3 seed virtually sealed up, coach Billy Donovan said it was a collective team decision to rest two of his five starters.
"It's a collaborative effort between the medical staff, myself and the players," he said. "With the back-to-back, we really felt like it was an opportunity to do that for Serge and Kevin.
Donovan said the amount of minutes and games played this season factored into the decision, and said tracking that information allows the team to have "a plan in place to be able at different points in time during the season to rest somebody."
Durant said last week he wasn't interested in resting during the regular season, saying, "I got my rest last season and earlier this year. I'm good."
But Donovan stressed it was a mutual decision with the players to make the call to sit Durant and Ibaka.
"It's not something we're dictating," Donovan said. "They're part of these conversations. We want to know how they're feeling, what they think, where they're at in terms of number of games played. Being able to get them some rest, making sure they're fresh. All those things go into the decision, with them being a part of it. In order for any of it to work, Kevin and Serge have to be on board and say, 'Yeah, this is what I want to do. Yeah, tonight's a good night to do that.'"
The Thunder had entered Tuesday riding a league-best eight-game winning streak. With the loss to Detroit, they sit 10½ games behind the Spurs and five ahead of the Clippers with seven games to play, effectively locking them into the third seed. The Pistons are seventh in the East and fighting for playoff positioning.
This was Durant's eighth missed game of the season; he sat out six games in November with a strained hamstring and one in December with a sprained toe. The Thunder are now 3-5 in games this season without Durant. Ibaka has now missed two, resting earlier in the month against the Pacers.
Russell Westbrook played Tuesday but finished short of earning his 17th triple-double of the season, finishing with 24 points, six assists and four rebounds. As for a plan to rest Westbrook, Donovan said that's "on the table," but not yet determined.
"You have to look at each player individually," Donovan said. "And I get it -- if Kevin and Serge are sitting, why not just sit Russell? I get that question or that theory. But what we've got to do is take each individual player as an individual, how many minutes they've logged, practices, those kind of things and evaluate that. And also see where the player's at physically themselves.
"In talking to Russell he feels good. That's not to say another back-to-back comes down the road or another game comes down the road, that we would not be open-minded to resting him. We are open-minded. We want Russell to be part of those conversations. He's ultimately got to let us know how he's feeling and where he's at, but that's something, no question, that's on the table down the road."