Rivers will look at bench to help Pierce, Garnett after marathon game

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Rivers will look at bench to help Pierce, Garnett after marathon game

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Less than 24 hours after a thrilling triple-overtime win over Denver, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers has no plans to change up his starting lineup for tonight's game against Charlotte.

But it's worth keeping an eye on how Rivers handles the minutes of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett who played 54 and 47 minutes, respectively.

"We'd like to limit their minutes in the first half as much as possible, but it is what it is," Rivers said.

For Pierce, the 54 minutes on Sunday was the most he played since he dropped 50 points on the Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Feb. 15, 2006.

As for Garnett, it was the most minutes he played as a Celtic and the most he played overall since logging 51 against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 6, 2007 when he was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Having logged so many minutes, it goes without saying that a Celtics victory will likely involve someone stepping up not named Garnett or Pierce.

"That's every night," Boston's Courtney Lee told CSNNE.com. "It may be some nights someone else might carry the load. But last night, they did for a large amount of time. For sure those guys are probably going to be a little fatigued. Everybody else has to step up and continue to do the things that we've been doing."

Rivers said he will look to his bench more tonight, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Boston's second unit has outscored its backup brethren in each of the C's last seven games - all Boston wins - by an average of 12.8 points per game.

"We're playing 10-deep, sometimes 11 on some nights," Rivers said. "It's just who we are. Everybody understands that, everybody knows. It makes them more comfortable."

And the Celtics are a much tougher team to beat, regardless of how many minutes their core veterans have logged.

With so many different players contributing, the minutes are not going to be consistent night-in and night-out for players.

For example, Lee played just 23 minutes in Sunday's win - the fewest minutes among the starters - while Jason Terry came off the bench and logged a season-high 43 minutes which contributed heavily to his season-high 26 points.

"I didn't have it rolling," said Lee, who had two points while missing four of his five shot attempts against the Nuggets on Sunday. "Doc saw that, made a great sub with J.T. (Terry). It was his night. He had it going, along with Paul and KG. So any given night, it might be someone else's turn. That's what makes us such a great team and why we've been so successful lately. We just have to keep doing what we're doing, keep this winning streak alive."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.