Rotation Watch: The fine nine

March, 5, 2012
3/05/12
6:00
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesDon't worry, Mickael Pietrus. You're in the nine-man rotation that Doc Rivers is leaning on.
BOSTON -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after Sunday's win that he made a decision before the All-Star break to not only shuffle the starting lineup, but shorten his rotation with Boston running short on time to turn around its season.

The moves have seemingly worked as Boston has won four straight since the break. With Rivers stressing the value of every win from here on out, particularly after Boston's first-half struggles, he admitted it's going to be tough to loosen the rotation moving forward.

"These four games, if you've noticed, we’re basically at nine [rotation players], and that’s what we’re going to do," said Rivers, who noted how Kevin Garnett is the only player he's currently trying to limit in terms of minutes.

"But I like our rotation; I tightened it on purpose. I told our coaches after the Oklahoma City game, ‘When we come back, there’s nine guys. And that’ll be it.’ Every once in a while when we can go 10 we will, but that 10th guy right now is going to be a short-minute guy, whoever it is. And I like what we’re doing.”

That current nine-man rotation features the starting group of the Big Four and Brandon Bass, along with a reserve unit of Avery Bradley, Keyon Dooling, Mickael Pietrus, and Chris Wilcox. On Sunday, Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic, JaJuan Johnson, and Greg Stiemsma all earned healthy DNPs against the Knicks (Jermaine O'Neal and E'Twaun Moore were the inactives).

Injuries forced Rivers to use a larger rotation during the first half of the season, but with only O'Neal (left wrist) out of action now, Rivers is leaning on his core guys to carry this team during what amounts to a must-win stretch. Some will decry the lack of playing time for rookies like Johnson and Moore, but games this season have been a grind for Boston and Rivers is playing it safe by leaning on his most talented and experienced players.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9