Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett got quality time on the bench Friday.BOSTON -- With the second night of a back-to-back looming, the Boston Celtics were able to limit minutes in Friday's lopsided win over the Portland Trail Blazers, keeping veterans Paul Pierce (27 minutes) and Kevin Garnett (23 minutes) at manageable numbers.
On the surface, that should help keep Boston's veterans fresh when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night to close out the back-to-back. Celtics coach Doc Rivers, however, doesn't see a huge value in shaving a few minutes off in this sort of situation, but has aimed to keep those numbers low this season.
"I don’t subscribe to that theory [on limited rest], I honestly think you do the same warm-up, you do the same game prep -- so you use your wattage, no matter what you play," said Rivers. "[Lower minutes] can’t hurt, so let’s put it that way.
"Paul clearly didn’t want to go back in, he made that very clear to me. Twice I said, ‘Paul, go one more possession.’ But that was good, good for him to get rest, because we’re playing those [run-happy Bucks on Saturday], we’re going to need all the energy we can get."
Even while playing without Rajon Rondo (two-game suspension), the Celtics managed to keep minutes low by breaking the game open in the second quarter and leaning on their role players, who needed a confidence boost.
For the season, Garnett is averaging 28.7 minutes and Rivers has worked hard to shave 2½ minutes off last year's average (often capping Garnett at 30-32 minutes, even in bigger games). Pierce is at 33.5 minutes per contest, the lowest run of his 15-year career and a ½-minute less than a season ago.