Win over Bobcats bigger than anticipated
Last night’s 111-109 double-overtime victory over the playoff-charging Charlotte Bobcats wasn’t much of a big deal, at least according to the sentiments head coach Doc Rivers and GM Danny Ainge have been floating recently regarding the remaining games of the season and playoff seeding. But for anyone who actually watched the game, Rivers most definitely felt otherwise during the game’s 58 minutes of action.
Here are the numbers you need to know: 47, 48, 46, and 44. Those are the number of minutes Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo played respectively against Larry Brown’s suddenly cagey, veteran team (what a surprise! Brown turned a young loser into a gritty, veteran bunch capable of giving anyone a good game on any night, too bad it won’t lead to anything more than early playoff exits without further changes). If the game didn’t mean anything, the theory Boston’s brass has ascribed to lately, it seems Ainge forgot to send Rivers a TPS report or something, because he most definitely didn’t get the memo Thursday night at the Garden.
Bill Walker played three minutes. Tony Allen, who sorely needs to test his recently proclaimed "healthy" thumb, which kept him out for the previous 22 games, missed a 23rd consecutive game against Charlotte because Rivers never put him in the game despite the need to get Allen back in shape for the playoffs. Rivers sent Allen to the scorer’s table late in the fourth quarter, only to see a long period of silence from the mouths of the game’s three officials prevent Allen from entering the game. By that time the sloppy Celtics had been reenergized by sparkplug Eddie House, and the "game" had become a "contest." Playing the lesser Allen at that point was not in the team’s best interest, so Rivers justifiably sat the former O.K. State star.
Meanwhile, in Orlando, the Magic lost 99-95 to the surprisingly pitiful Toronto Raptors, thanks in large part to "Superman" Dwight Howard’s 10-for-21 performance at the free throw line. Orlando’s loss, combined with Boston beating the Bobcats, puts the Celtics back in the second seed, and since the Magic have a more difficult schedule the rest of the way, Thursday night’s proceedings may have actually shifted the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.
"During one of the overtimes I glanced up at the board and saw that Orlando lost," said Rivers after the game. "I didn’t do a ’yip, hip, hooray’ or anything. I can care less."
I suspect Rivers wants home court advantage more than he’s let on, and ironically enough said so in his quote above. While many people errantly say they "can care less" meaning they can’t, this time, it may have been a competitor’s version of a Freudian slip.