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Marquis Daniels Will Determine His Own Minutes

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It's been the norm this season for Marquis Daniels (when healthy) to be the first guy off the Celtics' bench to replace either Paul Pierce or Ray Allen. But after foul trouble plagued both Pierce and Daniels in the first half against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, Tony Allen slid into Daniels's spot and produced admirable results, leaving Daniels as the odd man out against the Kings on Friday.

For the first half and the majority of the third quarter against Sacramento, Daniels was listed as a DNP - Coach's Decision. He eventually checked into the action with 2:33 remaining in the third period, but ended up playing a mere six minutes, registering just two points and one rebound.

Allen, meanwhile, put in 12 minutes of work, scoring six points to go along with four rebounds and an assist. Then there was Michael Finley, another wing option off the bench for Rivers, who took and missed just one shot in 11 minutes of work.

The message to Daniels, however, after his unproductive play against Denver, appeared to be that if he's not going to play with the aggression and energy the coaching staff expects of him, then he's not going to play at all. For that was the most glaring difference between Daniels's stint on the court against Denver and Allen's. Daniels was a no-show, largely due to fouls, but also due, in part, to a lack of aggression - something Allen brought into the game the second he checked in.

Against the Nuggets, Daniels checked out for the night having played just six minutes, and did not register a single point, rebound, assist, or steal. Allen, meanwhile, went on to score 13 points on 5-6 shooting, and was arguably Boston's best player on the floor at times, feeding off of opportunities created by the fast-paced Rajon Rondo (15 assists against the Nuggets).

Doc has acknowledged that his playoff rotation could very well shrink to just eight or nine guys - five of which are guaranteed (Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins). As for the other four who will see routine minutes in the postseason, it's certainly arguable, but Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, and Nate Robinson are all likely candidates. But when it comes to the relief of Allen and Pierce, who's going to get the minutes? Two weeks ago, it would have been Marquis Daniels, hands down. If the playoffs started today, it might very well be Tony Allen or Michael Finley.

I'm inclined to think that Doc sat Daniels as a wake-up call to say something like, 'Hey, we need you for the playoffs. But if you want to play then, you've got to play better now.' He's trying to nip this slight issue in the bud before it potentially blossoms into a legitimate problem heading into the postseason. I wrote a week or two ago about how Doc will most likely use Finley and Allen in distinct offensive and defensive situations, leaving them as extra backups to Daniels, who will serve as the primary wing reserve.

Ultimately, Daniels's postseason minutes will more than likely be determined by none other than Daniels himself. If he continues to unleash the spotty performances we've seen of late, it appears as though either Allen or Finley is ready to step into his spot. Allen can bring his rejuvenated athleticism and defensive prowess, while Finley can bring his veteran-ness and straight shooting. But, if Daniels decides to play with the aggression and intensity that we saw out of him when we played the Detroit Pistons back on March 15, he'll be the guy we want backing up Pierce and Ray Allen once the playoffs get under way.