The team's Big Three was not in the starting lineup against the Milwaukee Bucks in the regular-season finale, and coach Doc Rivers said they would not play. Rivers said a fourth regular starter, center Kendrick Perkins, wouldn't play either to make sure he didn't pick up his 16th technical foul, which might trigger a one-game suspension for either the playoff opener or next season's first game.
"We can't take the chance because the league has told us it's never happened" that a player picked up his 16th technical in the final game before the playoffs, Rivers said. "We called [Tuesday] to ask the question and nobody knew the answer."
The Celtics went into the game locked into the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Guard Tony Allen was unavailable with an illness.
NBA commissioner David Stern said on Wednesday that the issue of resting players at the end of the regular season will be discussed among NBA executives, but he doesn't see anything coming of it.
LeBron James sat out his fourth straight game for Cleveland against Atlanta on Wednesday night. Dwyane Wade was held out of Miami's finale against New Jersey, also on Wednesday night, and said he wasn't being held back by injury.
Rivers said he didn't know if the NBA should do something to avoid such situations.
"I do see the other side of it, though," he said. "There's going to be some fans here tonight that this may be the first time in their lives seeing the Celtics play and they clearly bought tickets to see the Big Three play and they're not going to see them.
"To me, that's not right. But then, on the other hand, they are Celtic fans and they probably want to see their team do their best in the playoffs so it's a tough call. But I do get it. I understand it. I don't know how you avoid it."