By A.Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON One of the keys to San Antonio's success has been that the anchor of their defense, perennial All-Star Tim Duncan, has been healthy. That is, until now.
Duncan suffered an ankle injury that's expected to keep him sidelined for at least two weeks.
With the Lakers playing great basketball since the All-Star break, the Spurs are in no position to take their comfortable lead in the West for granted.
But if you're San Antonio, you can't worry too much about finishing with the best record in the NBA.
Much like the Celtics, San Antonio's postseason success hinges heavily on being as healthy as possible.
And even now in a more diminished role, Tim Duncan's leadership, experience and veteran savvy are all invaluable to the Spurs' quest to win another NBA title.
BIG THREE NO GUARANTEE
When the Boston Celtics formed their Big Three back in 2007, no one knew how long it would take before the C's jelled into a title contender.
Well, 10 months later, Banner 17 was hoisted.
That kind of instant success has led to a handful of teams trying to replicate the Celtics' formula for instant success.
So far, not so good.
The Miami Heat and their triumvirate of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh were expected to run away with the best record in the NBA this season.
Right now, they're the third-best team in the East.
And New York is trying to develop its own Big Three of Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.
Forget about a championship. The Knicks will be fortunate at this point to move up - that's right, up - to the number six spot.
It just serves as another example that having three great players may win you some games. But it doesn't mean you're a great team.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers recently went with an eight-man rotation against New Orleans, and the result was a come-from-behind Celtics win.
It makes you wonder if Rivers will continue to keep his rotation on a short leash.
That's not going to happen.
The goal with this team is to ensure that the core guys get as much rest as possible between now and the playoffs, all the while maintaining a good playing rhythm.
There's no doubt that Rivers will shorten the rotation in the playoffs, and it's good to see that he can do that and still win on the road against a quality team.
But don't expect to see that lineup too often in these remaining regular season games.
A healthy Celtics team is the only way Banner 18 will happen this season. And the only way the C's have a shot at health is to continue giving quality minutes to the second unit and not just a select three or four backups.