Milicic waiting for his chance to contribute to Celtics

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Milicic waiting for his chance to contribute to Celtics

CHICAGO The preseason brought with it such promise for Darko Milicic.

The former No. 2 overall pick in 2003 seemed to have finally found a place where he could have a meaningful role and compete for a championship.

Of all the preseason developments for Boston, the potential impact that he can make both as a shot-blocker and a passer out of the post, stood out.

But that promise appears to be nothing more than that as Milicic finds himself in a familiar place right now -- on the Celtics bench.

Through seven games in Boston, Milicic's career with the Celtics consists of one appearance of less than five minutes.

In the past, Milicic would have sulked or complained about his predicament. But today, he seems to better understand that his time to help the Celtics may not come as quickly as he would like it to. And there is a consensus among the C's and Milicic that sooner or later, an opportunity for him to contribute will manifest itself.

"I just have to stay ready," Milicic told CSNNE.com recently. "Just be ready to play when I get my chance. That's all I can do."

Although the right wrist injury Milicic suffered was indeed a setback for him, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said his health isn't the reason why he has played so sparingly.

"Other guys are just playing better right now," Rivers said matter-of-factly. "Darko will help us at some point this year. Jason (Collins) absolutely will help us as well. You just can't play everybody."

To see big men sitting on the bench or not playing at all is becoming a common trend in the NBA this season.

In Boston's season-opener at Miami on October 30, the two Heat players that were inactive for that game were the Heat's only two true centers. Celtics rookie center Fab Melo has been inactive in all seven of the C's games this season.

Rivers has been among the many coaches who has found putting his best players on the floor often means going with a lineup that's smaller than the traditional five-man unit which typically includes one center.

And while the Celtics going with smaller lineups is the new norm in the NBA, there are still some teams that still stick with having a true center in the middle.

"I just think right now, it's like the NFL," Rivers said. "Some teams pass all the time. Some teams use the running back and even the fullback, which is unheard of these days. Our league is pretty much mirroring that a lot."

Quotes, notes and stars: Pedroia was focused on winning, not streak

Quotes, notes and stars: Pedroia was focused on winning, not streak

BOSTON -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 8-3 win over the Royals:

QUOTES

“I hadn’t really thought about it. Trying to win games. It’s late in the year . . . I don’t really have time to sit back and pat myself on the back for anything. We’re trying to win as a team.” - Dustin Pedroia on the importance of the 11-for-11 stretch in his career.

“It’s fun. It’s why you go to work in December, January, February. It’s all the work you put in up to this point. It feels good to go out there and get the results you expect to get, especially against a team like [the Royals] who is hot as they are right now.” - David Price on pitching meaningful games with a playoff-like atmosphere.

“Yeah, yeah we [knew about the streak] . . .  It was an awesome roll and it was fun to see . . . Every time I went up to hit, I let Salvador Perez know.” - Xander Bogaerts on Dustin Pedroia’s 11-for-11 streak.

“I think we’ve been able to handle velocity very well. We’ve got good bat-speed in out lineup, and we’re able to handle that.” - John Farrell on the offense thriving against good pitching.

 

NOTES

* David Ortiz played in his 1,000th game at Fenway Park, becoming the fifth player to do so.

* Ortiz also became the first player ever to play 2,000 games as the designated hitter.

* Mookie Betts scored his 100th run of the season off his 29th home run of the year, joining Fred Lynn, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams as the only players to reach 100 runs before turning 24.

* The Red Sox hit back-to-back home runs for the fourth time this season with Betts and Hanley Ramirez going yard in the fifth.

* With his 2-for-4 day at the plate, Jackie Bradley Jr. improved to 34-for-94 (.362) batting ninth.

 

STARS

1) Dustin Pedroia

Pedroia finished 4-for-5, extending his streak to 11 hits in 11 at-bats, finishing one shy of tying the MLB record.

2) David Price

Price logged his fourth straight quality start with his six-inning, two-run start. He also dropped his ERA below 4.00 for the first time since his Opening Day start with Boston.

3) Salvador Perez

Perez finished 2-for-3 with two home runs. Saturday marked only the second multi-home run game of his career.