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Doc Rivers wants to keep Rondo’s minutes under control

Nov 5, 2012, 5:23 PM EDT

Celtics' Rondo looks at head coach Rivers as he walks off the court during Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoffs basketball game in Atlanta Reuters

The Boston Celtics aren’t off the best start this season, posting a 1-2 record in their first three games. In those contests, Rajon Rondo has racked up a lot of minutes. If you ask Doc Rivers, it’s been too many minutes. Since he is in a position to do something about it, he plans to:

“I’m concerned, not as far as him getting tired,” Rivers said. “But him to save himself on the floor.”

“There’s a minutes number for him,” Rivers said. “We don’t know what it is yet.”

“We’ll figure it out, where he can play his minutes at full pace instead of knowing he’s going to be on the floor too long and start pacing himself,” Rivers said. “We need him to be a fast, quick, aggressive player.”

Doc is one of the smarter managers of player minutes around. In recent seasons, he’s curtailed Kevin Garnett‘s minutes to maximize the productivity his aging star can give him and he’s done the same thing for Paul Pierce and Ray Allen (before his departure for the Heat). Rivers understands the goal is to win a championship and how that can be compromised if his star players are worn out in May and June.

That said, Doc is also a coach that is still in search mode for the right lineups on a team that has seen a lot of turnover since last season. He has two key new rotation players in Jason Terry and Courtney Lee and is still without Avery Bradely (who is likely still a ways away from playing). Sorting out his back court rotation is something that could help reduce Rondo’s minutes but that will take time.

Rivers also has new front court players and shifting roles that need to be established. But this is something he  seems to understand as part of the building process of the season:

“I’m not that concerned with rotations and all that stuff,” he said. “Only five guys are going to play at one time. Kevin’s going to do the same rotation and there’ll be a big that’ll take his spot. It’s not that difficult. The more important thing is finding the right group.”

Rivers is in an enviable, yet still sort of tough, situation with this current group of Celtics. This past off-season saw a lot of change in the form of a revamped roster with several players who can contribute. Free agency and the draft produced quality talent that can really help a Celtic team that was starting to show its age in the playoffs.

But with all that change comes some unfamiliarity that will need to be worked out. In times where there’s some uncertainty, it’s easier to lean on who you know, especially when that player is young and extremely talented like Rondo.

Rivers, though, is sure to sort things out. At some point he’ll find the right rotations, figure out which personnel groupings work best, and still find a way to reduce the minutes that Rondo plays. Even if it means the team doesn’t win as many games as it could have if he pushed his players for longer minutes.

He sees the end game and knows what it takes. There’s a reason he’s one of the best coaches in the league. It will just take a bit of time.

  1. lakerluver - Nov 5, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Without Rondo on the court for big minutes, the C’s can not win consistently. He’s their best player.

    • michaeljordanseviltwin - Nov 5, 2012 at 6:30 PM

      If defense counts as much as offense I’d argue that Garnett is and has been their best player since 2008. He may be declining in stamina but when he’s on the court the Celtics are still the best defensive team in the league…. and that’s made obvious by how easily teams get to the rim with him on the bench.

  2. limonadamas - Nov 5, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    It must be nice for Celtics fans to be following a team where the coach has an understanding of the concept of “minutes” and “pacing.” Still shaking my head at Mike Brown bringing in all the starters in the middle of the 4th quarter of a blowout win yesterday.

  3. lakerluver - Nov 5, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    The LAKERS are building cohesiveness. Boston has been together for awhile, what’s their excuse for looking terrible so far this season?

    • andyhr17 - Nov 5, 2012 at 7:08 PM

      The Celtics have an entirely new bench and a new starting shooting guard. You’re statement isn’t even close to being true. Are you channeling Mitt Romney on election eve?

    • hehateme2 - Nov 6, 2012 at 7:59 AM


  4. lakerluver - Nov 5, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    The core of their team has been together since 2008, playing in the same system, under the same coach. I initially picked Boston to go to the Finals this season. I’m not so sure now.

    • hehateme2 - Nov 6, 2012 at 8:00 AM

      Bad move- it’s going be the HEAT in the Finals.

  5. liljere24 - Nov 5, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    I have never seen so much overreaction over the first week of a season EVER. My god, people need to chill out. Odds are half the teams will win the first few games and half the teams will lose the first few. How hard is that to understand?

  6. sunsation3413 - Nov 6, 2012 at 1:00 AM

    Dont you all know the Knicks are 3-0. They’re going to the finals. All is well in the world. Geez

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