DENVER CO - FEBRUARY 24: Head coach Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics leads his team against the Denver Nuggets during NBA action at the Pepsi Center on February 24 2011 in Denver Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Celtics 89-75. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doc has a lot of challenges as a coach, but one of the underrated ones is managing everyone's minutes - especially on a veteran team that needs to save their legs for the playoffs but happens to be suffering from a season long string of injuries that would make for a good season of Grey's Anatomy. Any coach's instinct will always be to win the game in front of them, and that means riding the horses that carry the load most nights. But Doc has to get the minutes down.
"I'm not that concerned," said Rivers. "I don't like the [amount of minutes the] last two games. Thirty-four minutes is the [target] number for [Boston's Big Four]. If you get under that, that's great. Right now, and hopefully Carlos helps, each night we have to choose between Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce], who's going to play the 38-minute night. And Rondo is playing the 40-minute night. We want to get those [three] guys down -- Kevin [Garnett's] minutes haven't changed and they won't change; We won't change his minutes ever. But I do want to get Ray and Paul down. They love minutes, honestly, but I think they should rest."
Rivers has been concerned about playing Rondo too many minutes. He has posted the following totals in his last six games: 43, 34, 42, 39, 42, 38. That 34 came in a relatively comfortable win over the Clippers. Rondo had to take himself out for a quick rest in the fourth quarter of their game against Golden State and looked a step slow on Sunday against the Bucks. While rookie Avery Bradley has stepped in admirably, the Celtics desperately needed a veteran hand at the position.
The new guys certainly help the issue. Reports are that Carlos Arroyo will be available for Wednesday's game. Pavlovic, Green, Murphy, and Krstic will all see time as well. With any hope, none of them will catch the injury bug as well. Keeping pace for home court advantage is important, but so is having guys that can play without limitations in the playoffs. Nobody expects to see this club fully healthy a month from now, and it is encouraging to hear players say that "if the playoffs were today, I'd be playing." But whatever Doc and the training staff can do to keep players fresh could be key when June rolls around.