DALLAS Not having Rajon Rondo available is certainly a blow to the Boston Celtics' chances of winning.
But not having Kevin Garnett or Brandon Bass?
Monday's 89-73 loss to Dallas was yet another reminder of just how not having either one of those players available makes things a lot tougher for the Celtics when it comes to scoring.
Garnett has missed the Celtic's last two games while attending to what teammate Paul Pierce referred to as, "a family matter." And Bass is out with a left knee injury that will keep him off the court until some time after the all-star break.
Conventional wisdom dictates without Garnett and Bass, that just means more shots for Pierce and Ray Allen, right?
Because both Garnett and Bass fall under the umbrella of being power forwards who can "stretch" the floor with their long-range shooting, their absence has made it easier for teams to defend Pierce and Allen.
"You could see it (Sunday night at Detroit)," Rivers said.
Just about every time either Pierce or Allen had the ball in their hands, at least two Pistons defenders were waiting or were close by.
That strategy employed by Detroit, was back on Monday night being implemented by Dallas.
"Our identity this year is that we're a defensive team," said Mavs coach and former Celtics player, Rick Carlisle.
But even Carlisle recognizes that the short-handed nature of the C's roster now, was indeed a factor that helped his team win.
"Their team was depleted to a great extent, so that's a mitigating circumstance," Carlisle acknowledged. "I understand that. But the other guys they threw out there were hard-playing guys and they played well. We had to play to win."
And that play included making sure that Allen and Pierce didn't get too many good looks, well aware that it would be easier with no Garnett or Bass in the picture.
Pierce, who had 20 points against the Mavs, will be the first to tell you that it's tough not being able to have the kind of freedom he's used to offensively.
But he totally understands where teams like Dallas are coming from.
"You've got to understand that if I was on the other team, I'd do that, too," Pierce said. "Especially when you don't have guys like Kevin and Rondo and Brandon out there, guyswho can space the floor. They have a good game plan and we've just got to figure out ways to get other guys the ball, and other guys need to step up and like I said, weather the storm."