BOSTON Doc Rivers was no different than most when the news came that the NBA was hitting the San Antonio Spurs with a 250,000 fine for the Spurs' sending four starters home prior to playing the Miami Heat on Thursday.
The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement released on Friday. "The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the teams only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans.
Rivers understands where Commissioner Stern is coming from on his ruling.
That doesn't mean he likes it.
"I don't like it," Rivers said. "You gotta coach your team to win in the long run. You have to do whatever you need to do. If that's sitting players, you sit players. It's a tough one."
It's not uncommon for teams to sit some of their core players near the end of the season, giving them some rest before what teams hope will be a long playoff run.
But veteran teams like the Spurs as well as the Celtics, tend to find ways to rest their players during various intervals during the season.
Rivers said this decision by the league won't change the way Boston approaches whether to play or rest players.
"We'll do it when we want to do it," Rivers said. "And we should be able to do it. It can be early in the season, end of the season. Now if we give a guy off because he has a family thing there's just so many things here. Hopefully we all will figure it out."
Rivers added, "Whatever is going to help your team win, a coach has got to do. If you don't and it hurts your team, then you're the one that won't be around. So whatever is best for the team."