C's loss may help Doc find his playoff rotation

C's loss may help Doc find his playoff rotation
April 1, 2013, 11:30 pm
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MINNEAPOLIS — Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers makes it emphatically clear that the goal every night is to win.

But with the regular season winding down, Rivers needs to start working towards establishing a playoff rotation, which he acknowledges is far from set in stone.

"We don't have our playoff rotation yet," he said. "Most (playoff) teams do. We don't. We have I know seven for sure, but we want to play eight or nine."

Prior to Monday's 110-100 loss at Minnesota, Rivers' pre-game speech touched on the importance of these remaining regular season games in determining who would see action in the playoffs for Boston.

"'I want to see who wants to play in the playoffs,'" C's guard Jason Terry recalls Rivers saying before Monday's game. "'I want to see who wants to play in the playoffs. I have to know who I can count on.'"

Terry added, "So, with that said, the writing's on the wall."

Injuries have left the Celtics no choice but to see guys normally at the end of the bench, play extended minutes.

The Celtics will likely have at least one big man off the bench in their rotation, a battle that will come down to Chris Wilcox, Shavlik Randolph and D.J. White.

Wilcox has been with the Celtics all season and appears to have the inside track.

Most of this season, he has been the first big man the C's have turned to off the bench when Kevin Garnett needs a break.

With Garnett out with inflammation in his left foot, Wilcox has been inserted in the starting lineup in all but one of the five games.

This season, Wilcox has appeared in 54 games (four starts) and has averaged 4.2 points along with 2.8 rebounds while playing 13.7 minutes per game. But his greatest strength lies in his ability to run the floor, the kind of quality that doesn't always show up in the final stats.

However, Wilcox has been inconsistent with his rebounding and defense which has opened the door for someone else - maybe Randolph or White - to come in and swoop away his role in the rotation.

Of those two, Randolph appears to have the advantage right now.

He has appeared in nine games for Boston and averages 3.8 points and 4.4 rebounds which includes a near double-double of nine points and 13 rebounds in Boston's win over Atlanta on Friday.

Randolph's 16.7 rebounds pro-rated over 48 minutes is tops among the Celtics this season.

White appears to be the biggest long shot among the bigs to become a playoff regular, in part because his biggest strength (shooting the mid-range jumper) is a particular skill that the Celtics have plenty of players already capable of providing.

Rivers indicated that he doesn't have one particular player that he's targeting to be included in the rotation.

Their play, not whether he's pulling for them, will determine who gets to play some in the playoffs.

"I just want to see them play," Rivers said. "We know who we like, but they have to do it every night."