Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers is certainly not complaining about his team’s comeback win in Orlando last night. The old team started off the season miserably and are hoping for a win over Indiana tonight just to get back to .500. (They’re 8-9 going into the game.)
The one downside, however, is that ol’ man Pierce had to play 44 minutes to lead his team to victory. The Boston perimeter has turned into a MASH unit with Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and, now, Keyon Dooling all sidelined. This means Doc will likely be forced to play Paul Pierce big minutes again tonight. He will certainly look to limit him if possible, but the tone of the game will likely dictate his minute count more so than an artificial playing time cap.
This means one of two things: either Rivers will reign in Pierce’s playing time, with an eye on the long term over his team’s current three-game winning streak, or he will have his best scorer out there longer than he wants to on less-than-fresh legs. That’s a win/win for Frank Vogel and the Pacers, presuming Pierce doesn’t turn back the clock and drop 40 despite some tiredness.
Never-the-less, Rivers probably wishes he had some of Indiana’s depth right now. When asked what the key to the Pacers success has been this year and why they’re able to bounce back from losses like Tuesday’s in Orlando to do things like beating the Bulls in Chicago, he praised their depth.
“It’s tough to focus on one guy,” said Rivers before the game. “It could be Hibbert. It could be Collison. It could be Granger. They have so many guys now that can have big nights. And they win some games where no one has a big night. Actually, I think they win most of the games that way. You’re looking at the stat sheet, and you’re befuddled sometimes You’re like ‘no one hurt us.’ Then when you look, and all of them had 15 points or 12 points and that adds up.”
Rivers also is impressed with Indiana’s young legs and, perhaps more so, their wingspan.
“Their athleticism and their length is underestimated to me,” said Rivers. “They’re a long basketball team, and that makes them a great defensive team.”
A “great” defensive team might be pushing it if you ask me. But what do I know? He’s Doc Rivers and as the man who coached the 2008 Celtics, maybe we should just take his word for it.