Rivers faces tough task of lowering Garnett's minutes

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Rivers faces tough task of lowering Garnett's minutes

MIAMI This time of year, it's a given that the best NBA players with games remaining on the docket will play more minutes.

Fatigue is always a concern, even more so - you would think - for a team like the Boston Celtics.

No need to toss out the old man jokes, or the geriatric jabs, either.

They know.

For C's coach Doc Rivers, it's not that big of a concern despite having a team that's significantly older than his opponent, the Miami Heat.

And with just one day in between the games, it's not like they're going to get a ton of rest, either.

Rajon Rondo (46.5), Ray Allen (41.4) and Paul Pierce (40.5) are all averaging more than 40 minutes per game - all significantly higher than their regular season averages.

But it's the guy next in line for minutes played - Kevin Garnett - who Rivers would love to find a way to drop his minutes a little bit.

Throughout the season, Rivers has gone to great lengths to keep Garnett's minutes in the low to mid-30s.

Four games into this series, and Garnett has already a pair of games in which he played more than 40 minutes - a trend Rivers has no intention of continuing, if it can be helped.

But truthfully, it can't.

The C's have every intention of doing all it can to win this series.

Part of that blueprint for success involves Garnett logging major minutes because of his ability to impact the game in the paint at both ends of the floor.

When games end and Rivers is given a final statistic sheet of the night's events, the first thing his eyes gravitate on, is the minutes played by Garnett.

He did so once again after Boston's 93-91 overtime win in Game 4 that has the series now tied at 2-2 with Game 5 in Miami on Tuesday.

"I went right to Kevin's minutes," Rivers said. "And I turned to my coaches and said, 'I don't like this.' This is twice in this series.

Rivers was bothered by Garnett playing more than 43 minutes.

"It's too many," Rivers said. "Obviously it's tough to avoid in overtime."

The concern, naturally, is that it will impact his ability to be a factor tomorrow night in a pivotal Game 5 battle that's likely to include the return of Chris Bosh (abdominal strain) who may see his first action in this series.

"I just know that that's a lot of minutes," Rivers reiterated. "That's twice now in four games in eight days. That's just a lot of minutes for him."

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

BOSTON -- When it comes to NBA awards and accolades, players in contention often try to play it cool when asked about whether they are deserving.
 
And then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, who gives a definitive response whenever the question about whether he should be an All-Star starter is raised.
 
We’ll find out later today if Thomas will in fact be named as a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team when the East and West starters are announced. 
 
“It’s a little bit refreshing in that he is open about it,” Danny Ainge said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show this morning. “But every player wants to be acknowledged by their fan base, by other players in the league, coaches. You come into the league and as a young player you want to earn the respect of your peers and then you want to get paid and then you want to be an All-Star; maybe that’s the wrong order; and then nothing more important than winning.
 
Ainge added, “Isaiah is having a great year. He’s talked a lot about it. At some point in his career, he’ll talk about the most important thing and that’s winning championships.”
 
Ainge pointed to when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were all Celtics, there was no mistaking that winning came before anything else.
 
But where those guys were in their careers in terms of individual achievements and just age, were major factors in their focus being so deeply rooted in winning.
 
“Along the way they all want to win, but when you get to the point where Paul, Ray and KG were in their 30s, they didn’t care about any of that other stuff because they had it all, already,” Ainge said. “They had multiple All-Star games, they had big contracts, winning became the only thing that mattered.”
 
In other Celtics-related news, Ainge said that there’s no timetable for when Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will return to the floor. He has missed five of the last six games with the injury which includes last night’s loss to the New York Knicks which was a game in which the 6-foot-2 Bradley was a last-minute scratch from the lineup