Rivers concerned C's playing too many minutes


Rivers concerned C's playing too many minutes

BOSTON When the playoffs arrive, it's a given that the best players will wind up playing more minutes than usual.

Still, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledges that this is a concern following Boston's 90-84 overtime win in Game 3 over the Atlanta Hawks.

Rivers is most concerned with the minutes of the Big Four - Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen (ankle) who returned to the lineup after nearly a month off.

Rondo (45.6), Pierce (44.2) and Garnett (40.4) are all averaging more than 40 minutes per game, something that you rarely see after this many playoff games. And Ray Allen, in his first game in nearly a month, returned to play 37 minutes.

Rivers' plan as far as dispersing the minutes, certainly worked for the Celtics.

Much like this season, it didn't go quite how he planned.

Rivers acknowledges that he's not thrilled with the idea that his core guys are logging so many minutes. All are certainly worth being concerned about, but Garnett's playing time is most disturbing.

Garnett is the charter member of Rivers' '5-5-5' plan which is designed to limit the amount of minutes Garnett plays to five-minute bursts to start quarters, take him out for a few minutes, and bring him back to end the quarter.

He was especially concerned with Garnett's minutes.

"I got stuck with Kevin, honestly," Rivers said.

The time that Rivers usually takes Garnett out, was just when the C's were starting to put some distance between themselves and the Hawks.

So rather than risk throwing the team's rhythm off, Rivers decided to ride KG and company out until the very end.

After Atlanta's Jeff Teague had a dunk to tie the game at 60 early in the fourth, the C's went on a 16-5 run to take their biggest lead of the night, 76-65, following a jumper by Garnett.

Rivers was anticipating that the Celtics could increase the lead even more and thus, allow Garnett and company to get some rest in the game's final stages.

He was wrong.

The Hawks battled back, and before you knew it, the C's wound up with the same lineup - Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Mickael Pietrus and Garnett - having played every single second of the game from the 53-second mark in the third quarter, until the final horn sounding.

"So sometimes, honestly, as a coach you take a gamble - you think maybe we can get this, put this away, and get guys out," Rivers said. "And it backfired."

When the game went into overtime, and Rivers saw a tired bunch heading back on to the floor, he had no idea what to expect in the extra session.

"I was really worried going in the overtime, just looking at Paul, Kevin and Rondo," Rivers said. "They didn't look fresh."

Then Rivers gazed upon the players that his unit was about to finish the game off against.

"They looked pretty bad, too," Rivers said of the Hawks who, like his team, were a physically and mentally exhausted bunch. "So that made me feel a little bit better."

While it wasn't the most ideal way to get the victory, you won't find Rivers or any of his players complaining - especially after he gave them Saturday off.

"Playoffs are hard," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "Sometimes the coach is going to ask a lot out of you. I went the whole distance again during the second half. It proved worth it."

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship


Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told CSNNE.com on Wednesday.
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told CSNNE.com that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”