David Butler II/US Presswire
How will Doc Rivers manage rest for his starters?With 10 games over the final 16 days of the regular season, including a back-to-back-to-back on the road starting Friday, the Boston Celtics won't get much downtime between now and April 26.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has said health is more important than seedings, but even he's unsure how to properly navigate this stretch, particularly with Boston set to play five games in six nights starting with a visit to South Beach on Tuesday night.
"We’re just going to wait and see how guys react," said Rivers, who admits it's a bit of an eyeball test with his players. He has kept a sense of humor about the situation, joking, "The way the Chicago game went [Thursday], I wish I had saw that before the game, I would have sat them all. That would have been terrific."
Rivers has noted how it's hard for him to simply keep guys out of the lineup, suggesting that even if he gave Kevin Garnett a night off, the veteran player would run five miles on a treadmill, lift weights and go get up shots -- barely affording him much true rest. Plus, you just never know how players are going to react on the court. Garnett struggled with his shot in Chicago and for much of the Indiana game before catching fire in the fourth quarter against the Pacers (securing that win) and carrying it over into the Philadelphia game.
"We’re just going to play it game by game," Rivers said. "This season, it’s just so hard to try to figure out who needs the rest and who doesn’t. Guys have been pretty good though, I will say our guys have been very honest in our talks about how their bodies are feeling. We’re going to really need that honesty over the next 10 games."
The good news for Boston is that the starters played manageable minutes Sunday in a key win over the 76ers. No member of the Big Three played more than 29 minutes and, coupled with Monday's off day, veteran legs should be fresh Tuesday in Miami. Decisions get more difficult later in the week with the back-to-back-to-back against nothing-to-lose opponents Toronto, New Jersey and Charlotte.
While Boston can use those games to potentially pad its record, that stretch also screams for resting players to ensure not emptying the tank before the finish line.
[Your turn: How should Rivers and the Celtics balance rest moving forward? Should Boston give guys full games off during this stretch of five games in six nights? Sound off with your rest thoughts in the comments.]