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Friday, December 21, 2012
Pregame: Wilcox, Barbosa out vs. Bucks

By Chris Forsberg



BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics will be without forward/center Chris Wilcox (right thumb) and Leandro Barbosa (personal matter) during Friday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Wilcox dressed but did not play in Wednesday's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rivers admitted he was going to hold Wilcox out anyhow while leaning on other big men (Wilcox has struggled defensively with rotations lately), but the thumb only encouraged him to keep Wilcox on the pine.

Barbosa is not with the team while he tends to the personal matter. To add some emergency depth, the Celtics recalled rookie forward Kris Joseph from the Maine Red Claws on Friday. Joseph is expected to remain with the team when it embarks on a four-game road trip starting with a Christmas day visit to Brooklyn before the Celtics head out west for three games to wrap up the calendar year.

Rivers said the Celtics will stick with "The Jasons" lineup featuring Jason Terry at shooting guard and Jason Collins at center alongside Boston's Big Three of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. He did downplay the hype around the latest batch of changes.

"I’ve said this 100 times: The starting lineup is not as important as everyone thinks it is," said Rivers. "I did that more from Kevin. In one way, just to get him some minutes at the 4 instead of the 5. And then, until Avery Bradley] comes back, for Jason Terry to get a shot. But other than that, I did like it, because Jason -- you don’t know which one, so I’ll let you figure it out -- his talking was terrific, it helped Kevin. I hope you guys can figure that one out."

And what did Garnett gain from having Collins alongside?

"He seemed like he had more energy. It’s one game, so it’s tough thing to look at," said Rivers. "If we play well tonight -- we’ll find out in a month what it does really. It looks like he had more energy, because he had another guy covering for him and he didn’t feel like he had to do everything on defense."

A couple other quick hits from pregame:

* Rivers on Bucks shot-blocker Larry Sanders, whom he compared to Oklahoma City swatter Serge Ibaka: "We should probably stop shooting when he’s right there. That would probably help, because he always blocks your shot. It’s funny, he does it to everybody. I actually told my son, Austin, when they played the Bucks, I said, ‘Hey Austin, be careful with Sanders, you get a step deep and he’ll get you.’ I think his first two shots were blocked, so I was thinking, ‘Nothing changes. No one listens.’"

* Rivers on playing the Bucks for the fourth time in 26 games: "What’s funny is, I don’t think any of the lineups have been the same on either team. It's four new games every time we play them. It’s early, I tell you, I obviously don’t love that. I just think you should play a team in your conference late in the season. But we’re going to make it up, we’re going to play the Knicks four times after this."