Celtics toe fine line between rest and clinching

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Celtics toe fine line between rest and clinching

BOSTON With three of their last four games at the TD Garden, the Boston Celtics will give their fans plenty to cheer about as the regular season winds down.

But with playoff races wrapping up, the Celtics are no different than most veteran, playoff-bound teams who start to sit their best players to give them added rest.

It's great for the players. Fans who come to see their favorite stars? Not so much.

"Obviously you would love to take care of the fans," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "But taking care of the fans is winning in the playoffs. That's the way I look at it; at least, that's how it is with our fans."

Prior to Boston's win at Charlotte on Sunday, Rivers decided to give Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett the night off, so they both stayed behind in New York -- the C's played at New Jersey on Saturday -- awaiting the C's to return from Charlotte for Tuesday's road game against the New York Knicks.

It was clear after the introductions of the starting lineup against the Bobcats on Sunday that the pro-Celtics crowd was noticeably disappointed that Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen (he was still out with an ankle injury) were not playing. And Rivers totally understands.

"For our fans," Rivers said, "at the end of the day . . . I think it sucks honestly to buy a ticket and the Big Three in Charlotte don't show, especially when 75 percent of the crowd was for Boston. Having said that, they want us to win, we did that; And secondly, they want to see us do well in the playoffs."

For that to happen, keeping guys healthy is essential.

As you canvass the NBA landscape, it's littered with teams that are resting players.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. The Miami Heat and Dwyane Wade. The San Antonio Spurs and their Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

All have missed games this month with the goal of being as healthy as possible when the playoffs begin in less than two weeks.

Throughout the season, Boston has had its share of health-related issues.

So it should come as no surprise that in these final days of the regular season, the Celtics are still grappling with lineup shuffling to accommodate the number of missing bodies.

Ray Allen's sore right ankle has kept him out for 11 games this season, including the last five.

And with the playoffs set to start soon, there are a number of Boston players with questionable health issues right now. Allen (ankle) and Mickael Pietrus (knee) both sat out Tuesday's loss at New York. Both are questionable for tonight's game against Orlando.

In addition, Rajon Rondo (back) and Paul Pierce (toe, thigh) suffered injuries against the Knicks on Tuesday which has cast some doubt on whether they'll play against the Magic who are playing without their best player, Dwight Howard (back).

That's why Rivers continues to stress that as much as the C's want to go into the playoffs playing well, keeping players healthy is more important.

Boston now needs one win to clinch the Atlantic Division and with it, no worse than a fourth seed for the playoffs.

Players acknowledge it's important, but not if it comes at the cost of having tired legs going into the postseason.

"At this point, it's a fine line (between) getting some rest and clinching the Atlantic Division," Pierce said. "The key for us at the end of the day, we want to be healthy going into the playoffs.We feel like we can win anywhere on the road. They key for us is being healthy."

Extended podcast with David Ortiz on his career, PED's, the Marathon bombing and more

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Extended podcast with David Ortiz on his career, PED's, the Marathon bombing and more

David Ortiz offers thoughtful answers and insight in this interview with Sean McAdam touching on his beginning with the Red Sox, the Boston Marathon bombings, showing up on a PED list, his impact in the dugout, and more.

You can also see pieces of the interview on CSN Friday at 6:30pm on a special Arbella Early Edition with Gary Tanguay and Lou Merloni.

RELATED Special Video Series - "Big Papi - An Oral History" from CSN

Thomas excited for reunion with Green

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Thomas excited for reunion with Green

WALTHAM, Mass. -- When the phone rang this summer, Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas had to do a double-take when he saw the name on the caller ID.

It was Gerald Green, his ex-teammate in Phoenix.

Although they only shared a locker room for 45 games in Phoenix, the two became quick friends.

On the court they developed instant chemistry while coming off the Suns bench. And that bond spilled off the court as Green would later spend time with Thomas in the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. area in the summer months.

They were cool with each other, cool enough to where Thomas knew it wasn’t in Green’s nature to pick up the phone and call just to say hi.

“Gerald doesn’t call anybody,” Thomas said. “When he called I knew something was up.”

Green said Boston, the team that drafted him in 2006 straight out of high school, was interested in bringing him back for a second stint with the club.

“I tried to put my two cents in and he got here,” Thomas said.

There were several factors that led Green back to Boston, with a chance to reunite with Thomas being high on that list.

Green, already in Phoenix at the time the Suns signed Thomas in 2014, was impressed with the way the 5-9 guard carried himself.

“He was a genuine guy, came in really humble,” Green said. “I saw the talent was there. I knew he had the potential to be one of the best point guards in this league.”

Thomas certainly made a case for such lofty praise with how he performed last season, good enough to earn his first all-star selection.

What really stuck out to Green was that Thomas’ mentality and approach to the game was almost a carbon copy of his own.

“When we stepped on the court we had the same mentality,” Green said. “By any means necessary, get a bucket and play harder than the next team; just try and push the first team, make the first team better every day.”

Thomas was coming off the bench, showing lots of potential and promise that he could carry a heavier load if given an opportunity to do so.

He averaged 15.2 points, 3.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 25.7 minutes off the Suns bench in 46 games. Even more significant was that when Thomas did play for the Suns, they were 26-20.

In the games without him, they were just 13-23.

Green was admittedly disappointed they traded away Thomas, believing that season would have had a very different outcome had they not sent him to Boston.

And just like Green recognized Thomas’ skills and how much his team could have benefited from keeping him around, Thomas speaks in glowing terms about Green and what his return to Boston means for the team.

“We needed someone like him; a guy that could shoot the ball, a guy that could space the floor; instant scorer whether he starts or comes off the bench,” Thomas said. “Where the he starts or come off the bench. He’s going to really help us.”