By A.Sherrod Blakely
MIAMI The last two games of the season are usually a time when coaches opt to rest core players for the playoffs.
Hence, the dilemma facing Doc Rivers, whose Boston Celtics were beaten soundly, 100-77, by Miami on Sunday.
While there's a desire to give those guys added rest for what Boston believes will be another long playoff run, there's also a benefit in having those guys play more together in order to improve the team chemistry, which is very much an issue with this club.
To sit, or not to sit?
That is the question Rivers acknowledges he doesn't have a concrete answer for right this minute.
"That's something we do have to think about," Rivers said. "Not sure what's better for us, just sitting it out or playing the next two."
Rajon Rondo, the team's leader in minutes played, is indifferent about being held out of action.
"That's coach's decision," Rondo said. "You know how I feel. I'm pretty young. It don't matter to me."
What does matter is the fact that the Celtics are not just struggling; but through those struggles, they're searching for answers that don't seem to be forthcoming as they would like them to be.
And as you can imagine, it's starting to wear on the players.
"The frustration is high right now on our team," Rivers said.
The intensity between Boston and Miami was evident throughout the game. But it seemed to reach a boiling point in the second quarter.
LeBron James came storming down the lane looking for either a lay-up or a dunk.
Jermaine O'Neal met him and delivered a hard foul that sent James spilling into the sideline.
Upset with the play, James and O'Neal had words. Moments later, other players were nearby which led to a lot of pushing and shoving, but no punches were thrown.
Rivers has seen his share of NBA fights, as well as his share of physical plays.
The O'Neal foul fell short on both counts.
"That play was what it was," Rivers said. "I thought it was all theatrical, all that crap. That stuff . . . I guess that's called toughness these days. Two guys run into each other. I guess we gotta call that a flagrant foul, which I thought that was a joke. I thought the reaction by both was a joke. Don't even get me started on that crap."
The 23-point loss was Boston's first this season by 20 or more points . . . Jermaine O'Neal and Nenad Krstic, Boston's only true centers on the roster, combined for just one rebound in about 26 minutes of action . . . Bench scoring was a huge factor in Sunday's outcome. Boston had 12 points off the bench on 4-for-16 shooting while the Heat got 32 points from its reserves who shot a combined 12-for-19 from the field . . . Rondo had five assists against the Heat. This season, the C's are just 3-4 in games in which Rondo has five or fewer assists . . . The Celtics will close out their regular-season road schedule on Monday against Washington. Boston holds a 2-1 series lead. Wizards rookie John Wall is averaging 18 points, 5.5 assists, four rebounds and 2.5 steals in two games against the Celtics this season.