Rivers concerned C's playing too many minutes

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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."

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

WALTHAM, Mass. – When it comes to NBA standings, no Celtic pays closer attention to it than Isaiah Thomas.
 
But the 5-foot-9 All-Star is quick to say that while he’s aware of what’s happening with other teams record-wise, Thomas, like his teammates, isn’t obsessed with it, even with the Celtics (48-26) now in first place in the East following Cleveland’s loss at San Antonio on Monday.
 
“It’s a good feeling,” Thomas said. “It’s still not the end of the year; anything can happen. It’s a nice feeling to be the number one seed for once, but we just have to continue to control what we can control.”

The fact that Boston is even in position to finish with the best record in the East is amazing when you consider injuries and illnesses have forced them to use 13 different starting lineups this season.
 
And the preferred starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson has played together 31 times and posted an impressive 24-7 record.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been consistent in his message that while having the best record in the East is nice, he’s more consumed with the team continuing to improve.
 
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot right now,” Stevens said of being in first place. “The whole idea is to make progress, get better every day and stay in the moment. You do that if you’re in last place trying to build up or whether you’re in a position where you’re fighting for seeding. Ultimately, we’ve been able to grow and get a little bit better. But I still think we can play a lot better. That’s where my focus is.”
 
And the same holds true for his players. Thomas knows how unusual this season has been for the Celtics, who continue finding ways to win despite frequently being short-handed.
 
The latest example of that involves forward Jonas Jerebko, who is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee because of a sore left knee that limited him in Tuesday’s practice.
 
“It’s a long season. A lot of things can happen whether they be good or bad and we know that,” Thomas said. “We just try to withstand the storm we’ve had a few times this year, and continue to try and stay as positive as possible and we’ve done that. We’re in a good position right now. We just have to continue to take care of business.”
  
And that means steadily improving while piling up the wins, particularly against teams such as the Bucks (37-36), who are among a handful of teams that could potentially be Boston’s first-round opponent.
 
Milwaukee comes in having won 11 of its past 14 games.

“It makes the game that much more important,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “Just like the Miami game. We want to let the teams know now, they go up against us in the playoffs, it’s no mercy. We’re going to play hard. We’re going to bring it every single night. We’re going to play Celtics basketball every single night. Them knowing that, we can scare a lot of teams if we’re playing the right way.”

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics have spent most of this season playing short-handed and Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee will potentially be another one of those games.
 
Veteran forward Jonas Jerebko has a sore left knee and is considered questionable for the Bucks’ game.
 
“Jonas went through about half of [Tuesday’s] practice,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
 
Jerebko has missed two games this season due to illness.
 
Because of Milwaukee’s length at seemingly every position, Jerebko’s ability to play both forward positions will be something the Celtics will surely miss if he’s unable to play.
 
This season, Jerebko has appeared in 69 games while averaging 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 35.0 percent on 3’s.