BOSTON -- With so little separation among his guards, Celtics coach Doc Rivers has made it a point to repeatedly remind them about the competition that exists for minutes.
Nobody knows this better -- at least now -- than Courtney Lee, who has fallen behind Jordan Crawford in the C's pecking order.
Rivers made this quite apparent in Boston's Game 2 loss at New York, when Crawford played more than 25 minutes while Lee logged a season-low of four.
"Jordan was playing well, Jeff [Green] was playing unbelievable, so we made a change," Rivers said.
Lee's play has certainly been a factor in Rivers' desire to look in a different direction when it comes to getting a lift from the bench.
But as much as this is about Lee, it should also be worth noting that Crawford's play has indeed positioned him for an opportunity to play more.
In the C's 87-71 Game 2 loss, it was Crawford's ability to repeatedly beat Steve Novak off the dribble for buckets that gave Boston hope of getting back in the game. When he trimmed New York's lead to just nine points, he seemed ready to spark the Celtics' most improbable comeback of the year. It didn't happen, but that didn't diminish his performance.
Crawford first got his chance to play serious minutes this season around the same time that Lee suffered a sprained left ankle and wound up missing three games.
In Lee's absence, Crawford put together a string of really good performances, averaging 15.7 points per game.
Sure, Rivers knows Lee wants to play his usual minutes, which hovered around 25 minutes per night.
But that should not have a major impact on Lee's play when he does in fact get in games.
"In the playoffs, you have to be ready when you're called," Rivers said. "You can't have any excuses or anything like that. Every team shortens its bench; guys play more minutes, some guys play less. The starters play more, everybody else plays less. You just have to be bought into the team. If you get called for a minute, be ready. Or if you get called for 20 minutes, you have to be ready. That's what winning teams do."