If I’m remembering correctly — and I should be, I’m only 23 years old and this happened just a couple weeks ago — Ray Allen said that the Boston Celtics were so deep Doc Rivers would have problems subbing everybody in. Allen said something like, “It’s a good problem to have.”
So far, Ray has been right. Rivers is having problems with substituting. Just not the kind Allen expected; Rivers is leaving his starters on the floor for too many minutes. Especially with such an old and creaky team, that’s a bad problem to have.
A. Sherrod Blakely examined the amount of minutes the Celtics’s Fab Four have played. For energy conservation advocates like me, it isn’t pretty.
PLAYER LAST YR. THIS YEAR +/-
Rajon Rondo 36.6 40.8 +4.2
Ray Allen 35.2 39.5 +4.3
Paul Pierce 34 37.1 +3.1
Kevin Garnett 29.9 34.3 +4.4
Glen Davis 17.3 30.4 +13.1
Marquis Daniels 18.4 17.1 -1.3
All those minutes beg the question: why? Well, because Doc Rivers loves to burn his starters out at the beginning of a season. Okay, he doesn’t actually love to burn his starters out. But he doesn’t mind that they have been relied on for such massive workloads either. Here’s what Doc had to say.
“I really do think you have to almost … get into the season and start worrying about minutes,” Rivers said. “When I looked at the schedule, I thought the first 10 games, I’d love for them to not play a lot of minutes. But if you had to, you’re not going to worry about it.”
Alright, Doc. You don’t have to worry about it, but I will. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett all look great so far. Why the need to run them into the ground so early?
Rivers blames the long minutes mostly on the early-season injuries. “When we get Shaq back and Delonte back, when we’re whole, then you can see guys playing less minutes,” Rivers told CSNNE. “That would be huge for everybody.”
Is this a road Doc’s going to travel down already? The “we’re injured and I can’t help but play my starters until they collapse” road? Call me crazy, but the Celtics are going to be injured all season. Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal, they don’t exactly come from Brett Favre Durability School. Marquis Daniels gets hurt at least once or twice a season, The Big Three are old and prone to injuries, and Rajon Rondo has already been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. If Doc is going to play starters big minutes any time a player finds his way to the injured list, well, Doc is going to play his starters big minutes all season.
He claims he knows how many minutes his stars can handle. “That’s one thing we talked about last year,” Rivers said. “You hurt them sometimes by not playing them. Then they lose their rhythm that they’re used to playing at.”
I’m not asking for them to sit on the bench for half the game, Doc. Just don’t run them into the ground a couple months before the All-Star break. Please. I’m begging.
To be fair, the Celtics have already played two overtime games. Those have inflated the minutes per game. To also be fair, I wouldn’t feel comfortable playing Nate Robinson or Von Wafer many minutes either. To also also be fair, Rondo’s plantar fasciitis gives him more pain after he has sat for awhile than when he stays in the game. But there has to be some solution, some way to limit Pierce’s and Allen’s and Rondo’s minutes.
Maybe Delonte West’s retun will solve most of the playing time problems. But at some point, when somebody else misses a few games, Doc might just have to stick Wafer or Robinson in the game for an extended period of time and hope for the best. It’s no good to rely on the starters to play 35-40 minutes.
But no need to worry, guys! Listen to what Paul Pierce tweeted! (My edited version of it, at least.)
“When we get healthy we are going to be scary.”
The thing is, Paul, with the exception of Perk’s ultimate return, you guys probably aren’t ever going to be much more healthy than you are right now. Especially if Doc keeps overworking the starters.