The Cleveland Cavaliers, who squandered a 26-point fourth-quarter lead in a stunning loss to Atlanta on Sunday, planned to rest stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving for Monday's game against the Miami Heat.
The third member of the Cavs' star trio, Kevin Love, is also questionable for the game.
The reigning NBA champions apparently decided rest was more crucial to their stars than the battle for the top seed in the Eastern conference playoffs, for which they are currently tied with the Boston Celtics.
James played 47 minutes before fouling out in Sunday's 126-125 overtime loss in Atlanta.
Irving, who has been having trouble with his surgically repaired left knee, played 45 minutes and Love 42.
The decision means Heat fans won't see James, who won two titles with the Heat before opting to return to the Cavaliers.
James hasn't won a game in Miami since leaving the Heat as a free agent in the 2014 off season. He will now have sat out three of Cleveland's four visits over the past two campaigns.
The Heat are clinging to a slim hope of making the playoffs. They are chasing Chicago for the eighth and final playoff berth in the East.