MIAMI -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he didn't even give Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett the chance to talk their way into Friday's game against the Miami Heat. After consulting with trainer Ed Lacerte, Rivers elected to give his two veterans -- and their sore ankles -- a game off on this first night of a back-to-back.
Pierce and Garnett are expected to be back in the lineup Saturday night in Orlando.
"We have back-to-backs and we're trying to avoid back-to-backs, to be honest," said Rivers, which -- not surprisingly -- hints that the duo likely will sit again since a back-to-back closes the regular season next week. "I just thought this would be a way to do it. A lot of talk didn’t go into it."
Added Rivers: "I didn’t even ask, honestly, on this one. This would be the right way to do it. I talked to Eddie first, and we tried to figure out [what] would be the easier way for them, and he thought it would be doing it this way."
While Boston will be without its stars, Miami will have its entire Big Three as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will play versus the Celtics. The Heat will be without Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier.
Rivers played coy on his starting lineup but said it would be a bit of a curveball from the typical five the Celtics have utilized without Pierce and Garnett in recent games. That could mean a rare start -- or at least extended minutes -- for someone like Jason Terry, who tends to play his most inspired basketball against the Heat.
"This team gives me a spark any time," said Terry. "It doesn't matter, we could play them in summer, winter, spring or fall -- anytime I see a Miami Heat uniform, I’m fired up."
Rivers did note that he'll get the 35-year-old Terry some time off moving forward, a departure for a player who desires as much game action as possible.
"Doc knows best," Terry said about upcoming strategic rest. "Coaching veteran teams over the year, knowing what he’s going to need me to do and how many minutes he’s going to need me in the playoffs, he feels like it’s going to be advantageous that I get some rest in the next couple games."
And how does Terry feel about that?
"I like to play. But again, I’m going with Doc; he’s been in this position before, he knows how to handle it," said Terry. "This is the first time I’ve been 35, so I don’t know."
Even with a thinned lineup, Rivers said his team's priorities don't change over the final four games.
"We want to win all four and I would like a lot of guys to play well," said Rivers. "I still think there are things defensively that we have to get better in going into the playoffs, and so we’re still working on stuff. We have a lot of new guys and some of those guys are going to play in the playoffs."
With the growing likelihood that the Celtics and Knicks will be first-round combatants, Rivers was asked if it's difficult to not look ahead.
"I don’t yet, because it’s not secure yet," said Rivers. "But once it is secure, it won’t be very tough. I will be looking ahead."