CHICAGO Kevin Garnett played just under 31 minutes in Boston's 96-92 win at Milwaukee, which is consistent with his court time under the Doc Rivers' mandated '5-5-5' minutes plan.
But if Rivers had his way, Garnett's minutes would be cut even more.
"My goal this year is 27, but that's hard," Rivers said.
Making that decision even tougher is knowing that when Garnett steps off the floor, far too often the C's control of the game leaves with him.
In Saturday night's win, Garnett left for the first time in the first quarter with 6:35 to play and the Celtics ahead by four points. By the time he returned with 1:12 to play in the quarter, it was a 20-all tie.
Rivers acknowledges taking Garnett off the floor is, "hard to do, but it's the right thing for the long haul."
Boston's dreams of a deep playoff run hinge heavily on Garnett's ability to play at a high level in the postseason, something that they would potentially jeopardize by relying too heavily on him during the regular season.
But there are certainly some nights when the temptation to play him above and beyond his usual 30 or so minutes, is there.
Against the Bucks, Garnett went into the fourth quarter having played just 22 minutes. Him playing the entire fourth would have pushed his minutes total for the night to 34.
When you throw in the fact that the Celtics were going to have Sunday off, for Rivers to make such a decision would not have been that far-fetched.
But as Rivers sees it, the idea of over-extending Garnett at all - let alone this early in the season - is not an option worth considering.
Rivers said there was "no doubt in my mind" that Garnett was not going to play the entire fourth quarter.
"He (Garnett) wanted to," said Rivers, who added, "that's never going to happen."
Finding ways to get Garnett his proper rest while not allowing opponents to continue to feast off the Celtics defense in his absence, remains an ongoing challenge for Rivers.
In the fourth quarter on Saturday, Rivers went with something different.
He had Pierce enter the game for Garnett early in the fourth and actually had Pierce in Garnett's role offensively.
The move worked surprisingly well for Boston which trailed by three points when Garnett left the game with 7:13 to play. When he returned to the floor with 5:18 to play, the Celtics were in a 76-all tie.
"If he plays more than four or five (minutes) in a row, he gets tired and then he can't finish a game," Rivers said. "We're not going to do it."