For the most part this season, every other time the Boston Celtics had its depth tested (due to injuries), someone has stepped up and shined. Sixth man of the year Glen Davis in particular stands out. In Sunday’s 85-82 win over the Miami Heat, it was his 16 points, along with Von Wafer’s 10 points and energy that proved huge in a game that saw a sick and sore Paul Pierce register just one point. Of course, Rajon Rondo’s league-leading third triple-double was the biggest key to that win, which put Boston 3-0 against LeBron James’ new squad for the year.
Tonight against the New Jersey Nets, another key player off the bench is due back from the injured list, Delonte West. But after getting hit in the hand during practice yesterday, that is in question now. Still, it’s a good sign that Boston has been able to be near or stay atop the Eastern Conference Standings despite a depleted roster, one still without both O’Neals (Jermaine and Shaquille), Semih Erden and Marquis Daniels.
The Celtics success at the top will be short-lived though if it continues to have so many bodies dressed in street clothes come game time. Yes, they’ve proven they can beat just about anybody at least once (and they’re 18-0 at home versus the Eastern Conference so far in 2010-2011 and have been the likes of the Lakers and Spurs) but the chances of Doc Rivers being able to coach a full complement of players this year is not looking good right now. And the longer that is the case, the more that will be be reflected in the Eastern Conference Standings.
Hopefully the Celtics will hit the All-Star break on a two-game winning streak with a win against the Nets. But this game isn’t that important and if getting healthy means limiting Pierce’s minutes and holding off on bringing West back until the second half, so be it.
Sure, that could mean losing the game, but Rivers and the Celtics proved last year that rest (or at least limiting Kevin Garnett and company’s minutes in the season’s second half) is best and that they didn’t need to be the top seed in the playoffs to make the NBA Finals against the Lakers. It could very well be a formula worth testing out again this year.
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