SAN ANTONIO: Perhaps Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue was just thinking out loud.

But it’s hard to believe Lue’s comparison of the Cavs’ current situation to the 2009-10 Celtics and the dramatic shift in philosophy it wrought in Boston just popped into his head.

It’s hard to believe that he hadn’t been pondering the drastic measure he suggested, perhaps even discussing it with his mentor, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, when they got together on the Cavs’ recent trip to Los Angeles.

Lue’s memories were foggy of that Boston Celtics’ season, his first in the league, when he served as director of basketball development under Rivers. There were some gaps between recollections and reality.

But it’s still possible that Lue will draw on what he learned seven years ago as he tries to prepare the floundering defending champions for the postseason.

It’s possible that with nine games remaining in the regular season, Lue will toss aside his concern for the Cavs’ seeding in the East to rest LeBron James and Kyrie Irving for an extended stretch.

“It’s crossed my mind,” Lue admitted after Monday night’s 103-74 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center.

He was mindful of how that might go over with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who sent out a memo after Lue sat James along with injury-restricted Irving and Kevin Love against the Clippers on March 18.

“We’ll see, we’ll talk about it. I know a lot of guys are tired,” Lue said. “With Kyrie and LeBron having to carry the load with Kevin and J.R. [Smith] being out so long, they’re pretty worn down.”

Irving’s string of 21 consecutive games with at least 20 points, the longest active in the league, ended with a thud against the Spurs. Irving scored eight points on 4-of-13 field goals and headed to the court afterward to get up more shots. As the media left the locker room, Irving had a towel draped over his head as he talked quietly with James.

James was resistant to Lue’s idea, which in most cases means it won’t happen.

“I feel great. I feel really good actually,” James said. “Coach is going to have his logic of things, but at the end of the day, we need to play.”

James went on to suggest that his teammates might be out of shape because they haven’t been able to match the quickness of the Washington Wizards and Spurs in the past two games.

But James has played 37.5 minutes per game, second-highest in the league. Irving is averaging 34.9, tied for 14th. That makes me think that Lue’s suggestion isn’t that farfetched.

Love and Smith, returning from injuries this month, are pressing. With a contract holdout and ankle and knee injuries before fracturing his right wrist on Dec. 21, Smith was already struggling. Then his daughter was born five months premature in January and will be hospitalized until her due date.

If the Cavs give up on the chase for the No. 1 seed, can accept finishing second, third or even fourth behind the Celtics, Wizards and Toronto Raptors, there will be less pressure on Love and Smith. The starting lineup will be disjointed without its two stars, but players in the second unit will get more time to hone their games. Tristan Thompson, the lone real center on the roster, can get more rest.

But the Cavs could possibly be sacrificing home-court advantage throughout all but the first round of the conference playoffs. That might be the tipping point for General Manager David Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert.

As Lue decides whether to take that path, he might present the 2009-10 Celtics as the reason why it might work.

That season, the Celtics’ Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett battled injuries, just like the Cavs’ Love and Smith. Ray Allen was the subject of trade rumors, just like Love. Rajon Rondo questioned the team’s leadership. Kendrick Perkins tossed out the possibility that the Celtics were bored with the regular season, a trait of the Cavs since James returned in 2014.

All the comparisons fit, except for the leadership issue.

Rivers did cut back his stars’ minutes, but Garnett sat only two of the last three games, Pierce and Allen one as the Celtics lost seven of their last 10.

The Celtics finished fourth in the East, but ousted the Cavs in the conference semifinals, and reached the Finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.

Lue said Rivers “picked health over seed and that was important to us knowing if we had a healthy team we’d be OK. I kind of feel the same way.”

Rivers confirmed that recently in an article in the Orange County Register. He said he told the team with about a month left, “Let’s not worry about the games, let’s worry about getting right for the playoffs.”

I’ll be shocked if Lue goes through with such a bold move. James called the Cavs’ situation “delicate” because they’re not playing good basketball and it seems hard to believe they can find their rhythm without James and Irving.

But the Cavs are showing their age — their average of 30 years, 30 days makes them the second-oldest team in the league behind the Clippers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Going into Thursday’s game against the Bulls in Chicago, they are 6-9 in March after a league-best 9-2 in February. A schedule with 12 out of 17 games this month on the road has taken its toll.

Perhaps three consecutive home games starting on Friday will re-energize the Cavs. Maybe Lue will think back to his message to the team Monday afternoon and reconsider.

“We’ve weathered a tough storm,” Lue said he told them. “We went through a lot. I don’t know if a lot of teams could’ve handled that. And here we are, still jockeying for first and second position. I just think we’re in good shape. We gotta play better, we know that. No need to panic.”

Panicking is what fans do, not coaches. But considering the Cavs’ delicate situation, conceding at least the top seed makes more sense by the day.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read her blog at www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.