TORONTO Part of the game plan on Friday was to find a way to get his starters some in-game rest by subbing some of them out early, and bringing them back into the game late in the second quarter.
Needless to say, that plan is likely to find a place on the playbook scrap heap following the Boston Celtics' 84-79 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday.
C's coach Doc Rivers acknowledged his plan to rest some of his players may have been a contributing factor to the team's less than stellar play against a Raptors team that has had very little success this season.
"I messed their rhythm up a little bit in the first half," Rivers said. "I told them I wasn't going to play them a lot of minutes and give them rest, and then try to make a charge in the second half. I don't think we handled that very well."
The starters pulled ahead by as many as nine points in the first quarter, and the bench helped extend the lead to as many as 13 points in the second quarter. Rivers then brought back most of his starters to close out the second quarter.
And that's when trouble arrived.
The double-digit lead was cut all the way down to just six points, 36-30, at the half. And the momentum gained by Toronto to end the half, carried over into the third quarter.
"We knew we had this game in the first half," said Toronto's DeMar DeRozan who had a game-high 22 points. "It was a six-point game at halftime and we knew if we turned it up and just started to be aggressive on both ends, we could win this game and that's what we did."
For Rivers, it was yet another lesson that he hopes both he and the C's can move forward from and maybe most important, build off of tonight against New Jersey.
"Again, you keep learning your team," Rivers said. "I thought we came out almost in a slow, cool mood, and I thought I activated that somehow."
Although most of his players were on the floor for their usual allotment of minutes, it was how those minutes were doled out that Rivers, in hindsight, saw as being problematic.
"By sitting them that long and not playing them a lot in the first half, I thought I may have lost their rhythm."
There was no question that from the C's perspective, there was a lack of fire from the very start of the third quarter. And even as the Raptors steadily pulled away, the urgency was still missing up until the last couple of minutes.
"We should have come out with better urgency in the third quarter," said Paul Pierce. "When you give a team like this some confidence, anything can happen in an NBA game. I thought we gave them a lot of confidence in the third quarter and it carried over."
Said Rajon Rondo: "Give them credit. We dug a hole too deep and we couldn't get out of it."
Fortunately for the Celtics, there's no time to dwell on what went wrong against the Raptors, not with a road game at the New Jersey Nets Saturday night.
The C's will certainly try and get back on track, and they'll look to do so with Rivers likely to go back to playing and resting his starters the way he has done for most of this season - a quick but necessary departure from the plan implemented on Friday that by all accounts - Rivers included - simply did not work.
"I won't do this," Rivers said. "That's for sure."