Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Garnett is learning to dial it back a notch and the new guys are learning the plays.
The last few days have been, ...well, kind of boring for this blogger. Not much really happening and no games to talk about. With that said, I'm happy to have been bored because it meant two critical things were happening. First, the old guys were getting rest. Second, the new guys were learning Doc's system.
One of the oldest dogs never used to want to come out of games or even take a practice off. Now he's getting smarter about that (according to Doc) and the result is that he's actually played almost all of the team's games (knock on wood).
Garnett has played in 57 of Boston’s 58 games, averaging 14.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Most significantly, he’s averaging just a tick over 30 minutes a game, which is right where Rivers wants him. It would be even lower if the Celtics hadn’t played a franchise-record 10 overtime games so far, including the epic triple-OT game against Denver on Feb. 10.
Winning is important but resting for the playoffs is just about as important. To win while resting KG means we'll need some young, big-man legs to fill in and Chris Wilcox can't do it all by himself. Or more accurately, we'll need other solutions when he's having an off night. Enter D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph (well, maybe enter them when they have a chance to learn the system). To that end, they've been getting the mini-training camp treatment along with the other two new guys.
Boston now has a small contingent of players -- Crawford, Terrence Williams, D.J. White, and Shavlik Randolph -- working towards the same goal: Learning the sets with an eye towards being able to contribute when or if called upon. On top of their usual practice responsibilities with the whole team, the four-man group has gotten together before and after official sessions to scrimmage and repeatedly run through offensive and defensive plays under the watchful eyes of the Celtics' coaching staff. Monday saw them gather roughly a half hour before the team's full-squad session so that they could work on a handful of sets before joining the regulars.
Between the All Star break and this last mini-break, the team has gotten about all the rest they are going to get headed into the final stretch. The new guys will learn along the way and hopefully contribute some along the way. It might be a bit much to expect them to contribute much in the playoffs as the rotation locks in (though Crawford has the potential to swing a game here or there and maybe Williams can pinch hit at some point) but if they can help get us to the playoffs, that's a huge contribution in itself. And who knows, maybe one or two of them will surprise us and be a big contributor in the postseason as well.