With NBA's best record likely in hand, Celtics rest Big Three
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Big Three are getting a rest.
None were scheduled to play Saturday night in Charlotte, even though a win would secure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. At least two of them also could sit out Tuesday night's game at Milwaukee.
Rivers also has scaled back some practices, although he intends to play everyone in the last five games over the final week of the regular season.
"We thought about it a month ago," Rivers said. "When you looked at the schedule, we had a game, two days off, a game and two days off. Honestly, we had hoped that we had clinched home court. ... But if we don't do it now, you literally can't do it. Because I believe you have to be playing going into the playoffs."
Pierce wasn't with the team Saturday after his fiancee gave birth to a baby girl on Friday. Garnett and Allen made the trip and took part in pregame warmups.
"They did their normal routine, because I'm a big believer in that," Rivers said. "This morning they did the normal shootaround with the guys. If you were here three hours before the game, Ray was out there, just like normal."
The Celtics were on the verge of setting the NBA record for the biggest single-season turnaround after going from 24 wins to 60 after acquiring Garnett and Allen in the offseason.
Garnett is averaging 18.9 points and 9.4 rebounds, while Allen is averaging 18 points. Pierce, who could rejoin the team before Tuesday's game in Milwaukee, is averaging a team-best 19.9 points.
"Doc has been running the ship the whole time. I'm just going to sit and watch from the sidelines," Allen said. "My body feels great. But it will be good to let these guys get minutes."
The Big Three's absence left an odd starting lineup for the Celtics against a team that has given them trouble this season. Tony Allen, James Posey and Leon Powe joined normal starters Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins.
It was hardly the lineup Charlotte fans expected when they purchased tickets for the game. The Bobcats' had only their fifth sellout in 39 home games.
"I hate the fact that I'm not in the lineup because people do pay to see you play," Allen said. "But sometimes you just can't control it. It's part of the business, and for us it's really about being selfish for this team."
The Bobcats, who won in Boston earlier this season and lost on a buzzer beater in another meeting with the Celtics, were without forward Gerald Wallace. He aggravated a groin injury in Friday's win in Toronto.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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