Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Doc Rivers orders rest for Big 4

Posted by chardyboy on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 0 comments

source: bostonherald.com

WASHINGTON — Doc Rivers has spent most of the season talking about the importance of seeding and the ability to have Game 7s on the Garden parquet. But last night the Celtics [team stats] coach changed his tune, believing it was better to get his regulars physically and mentally prepared for the postseason.

Thus, the team’s “Big Four” of Paul Pierce [stats], Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo [stats] were out of the lineup against the Washington Wizards.

Rivers also announced that, while he had no further news on Shaquille O’Neal’s right calf strain, he was ruling the big man out of tomorrow night’s regular-season finale against the New York Knicks.

“He’s not playing (tomorrow),” Rivers said. “I can tell you that right now.”

The decision to rest the starters was interesting in that the Celtics began the night just a game behind Miami for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. But Rivers felt too many things had to break right for the C’s to get the No. 2 seed, and the rest was more important.

“This was a tough one,” Rivers said of the decision. “But it was the right one because at the end of the day for us, it has to be about our team and whatever’s best for our team, even over seeding.

“With the way we’re playing right now, I think we do need (the break), so we’re going to take it. And we don’t have a lot of time. This has been an unusual ending to a season with all the games. The decision was made on how we played (Sunday at Miami) and that we lost the game. That was more of what this is about.”

The larger goal for Rivers is to get his team ready for a mini-training camp in the latter part of the week.

“Best-case scenario we play Sunday, which I think is what’s going to happen with the Bruins [team stats] (who play Game 2 at the Garden against Montreal on Saturday). I really thank them,” Rivers said. “But there’s still not a lot of days. You get Thursday, Friday, Saturday — that’s it. Then you play a playoff game.

“This way you get Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and your practice on Thursday can be a great practice with fresh guys, and we can really get to work. So I’d rather do that. The whole reason is that it allows us to have practices with energy, and I think we need that more than anything.”
Rivers insisted he was not sending a message.

“No, we’re ready for the playoffs,” he said. “We’ll be ready for the playoffs. This is no deep meaning. Just reset yourself, reset the team.”

Pierce and Allen had played in all 80 games, and both consider it a workman’s badge of honor to go the full 82.

“It was (difficult to see that run end), but you do what you think is going to be good for the overall,” Allen said. “If it means being prepared and ready for (the playoffs), then that’s what I’m for.”
Rondo had not spoken to Rivers when he learned about the decision. It was less than an hour before the game, and by that time the active roster had already been handed in, so he couldn’t lobby the coach to change his mind.

Rivers seems amused by the notion the Celtics [team stats]’ troubles are an effect of the Kendrick Perkins [stats] trade.

“I think it’s silly,” he said. “I mean, I think it’s such an easy way to go. I think we were 33-10 (when Perkins played his first game this season). I just think it’s more people from out of town media-wise.

Listen, we had the second-best record in the NBA and (were) second in defense and first in offense in a lot of categories. So it’s us in this room. We can’t use that as an excuse, and I don’t think we do.

“Like I jokingly told Perk, he should renegotiate again. His value keeps increasing by each (Celtics) loss. It’s amazing.”


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