To stay fresh, Celtics may limit Pierce's minutes

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To stay fresh, Celtics may limit Pierce's minutes

WALTHAM Paul Pierce is looking a bit slimmer these days.

If Doc Rivers has his way, the same might be true for Pierce's minutes this season.

Having Pierce at the top of his game when the playoffs roll around is a priority for Boston, which is why Rivers is seriously considering putting similar limitations on Pierce's playing time that he has done with Kevin Garnett.

"Paul is a guy I've never really worried about with minutes," Rivers said. "But I'm going to watch his minutes."

Heading into his 15th NBA season, Pierce has averaged 36.9 minutes played per game and has not averaged less than 34 in any single season.

That's a considerable amount of wear and tear over time, which is why Rivers has to give serious thought to going with the 5-5-5 plan for Pierce which would limit him to playing in five-minute bursts.

While it would certainly require some adjusting on Pierce's part, he's all for it.

"Doc, he's the coach around here," Pierce said. "I trust his judgement in everything that he does. We've been together a long time. Whatever is going to be best for the team, that's what it's gonna be."

But Pierce is one of the NBA's best at scoring in bunches, which might at times make the 5-5-5 rule difficult to implement.

"With me and Doc, we'll figure things out," Pierce said. "But if I'm on fire the first five minutes, I can't come out. It's simple and plain."

A hot-shooting Pierce.

Rivers has no issues with riding him and ditching the 5-5-5 plan for a game every now and then.

"I'm all for it," Rivers said. "Paul is a gym rat. Obviously if we can keep Rondo's minutes down, we will. And Paul's minutes down. It doesn't mean we will. But I'm saying, it would be nice."

Having a healthy Pierce at the start of training camp is a treat as well.

Pierce suffered a heel injury shortly before the start of training camp last season. It limited him early in the season and it wasn't until around the all-star break did he start playing like the dominant wing player that has been named to the all-star team 10 times.

"It's definitely an advantage to come out here and be already in shape," Pierce said. "Injuries hampered me coming into training camp. I can get off to a better start, hopefully. It's important that we stay healthy. It's important that we get off to a good start."

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Bulls' point guard counsel spun to Isaiah Canaan in Game 4

Bulls' point guard counsel spun to Isaiah Canaan in Game 4

CHICAGO – The point guard carousel continues to swirl for the Chicago Bulls who will now give Isaiah Canaan a try as they continue to search for a suitable replacement for Rajon Rondo (right thumb) who is out indefinitely.

Canaan, a seldom-used backup this season, came off the bench and provided a major spark for the Bulls in 34 fairly productive minutes. 

He led all Chicago bench players with 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting which included a 3-for-7 showing from 3-point range. 

More than anything, Canaan looked like a serviceable playmaker which is a huge, huge upgrade to what Chicago got out of Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams. 

Grant, who struggled mightily in Game 3 as well, was not ready for the moment. He couldn’t make shots, slow down Isaiah Thomas or impact the game other than negatively for the Bulls which is why Fred Hoiberg benched him after less than five minutes of court time. The dude had a plus/minus of -10 in less than five minutes (four minutes, 41 seconds to be exact).

The Bulls will need better play than that to have any shot at winning, which is why Hoiberg named Canaan the starter and not Michael Carter-Williams who like Grant, struggled in Games 3 and 4. 

“I really thought he (Canaan) did a good job picking up the ball and pressuring the point a full 94 feet," Hoiberg said. "I thought his initial ball pressure was good. We have to get off to a much better start if we want to have any chance of winning another game in this series. That’s two games in a row now we’ve gotten ourselves down 20 points and fought all the way back. Game 3 cut it to 1. Last night we took the lead and then had five empty possessions in a row where they scored on the other end. You spend so much energy digging out of that hole. We need to do a better job of using that energy in a better start."

Playing with energy may become an issue for Canaan who readily admits that not being in the regular rotation while racking up a bunch of DNP-CDs this season made it more challenging for him in Game 4 to get into a good flow. 

"The way I play, I was more worried about my wind,” Canaan told reporters. “God helped me out as much as possible. I’m looking forward to that next game and getting that rhythm back."