Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers is certainly no stranger to the playoffs. If the Celtics do hang on and clinch a playoff spot (which will not be a hard task in a weak Eastern Conference) this will be Rivers’ sixth playoff bound season in a row.
Time and time again, Rivers has not only shown that he can get his team playoff-ready in the final stretch of a season, but that he may be the best at it league-wide among coaches.
This year will be no different, as the Celtics have already begun their playoff push, and they are slowly starting to look like a team that can not only match up with anyone, but also a team that no one will desire to play, no matter what round.
Paul Pierce will continue to be Rivers’ go-to guy as he should be. He knows how to score at will, and can slow down a game by getting to the line, and making crucial decisions during clutch moments. Although his shooting numbers have taken a slight dip this year due to some nagging injuries, Pierce is still hanging with the top tier of the NBA in terms of his production.
Over his last 10 games, Pierce is averaging 19.7 points to go along with 5.8 assists and 6.2 rebounds. This is a pure example of Pierce going into captain mode and putting a team on his back. However, it’s now one year later, and playing almost as many minutes as your age (35) is not a long term recipe for success. Expect Rivers to start cutting some of Pierce’s minutes in order to get Jeff Green prepared for his first playoff season since 2011.
Kevin Garnett falls in a similar category. He’s playing just a few less minutes than Pierce, yet his contributions are seemingly a hundred times more important. The Celtics have struggled when Garnett is off the floor, to say the least, and it doesn’t seem as if that will change any time soon. Rivers is going to have to be very careful with Garnett as he is stunningly entering his 37th year of age.
It all comes down to how important Rivers thinks seeding is in a very tight-knit Eastern Conference. The Celtics have been average at best on the road, while boasting a very nice home record at 22-9. Their remaining schedule isn’t incredibly difficult, but still expect Rivers to give the proper rest to his veteran legs and perhaps use that time to integrate some of the new guys.
It’s a delicate balancing act, but the Celtics still are looking like they won’t go down easy.
Eric St. Cyr Covers the Boston Celtics for Rant Sports. Follow Him on Twitter @ericJsaint