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The Celtics are in rough shape now that their huge injury list includes bench players (Tony Allen, Brian Scalabrine, and Glen Davis) and starters (Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo). With the injuries, the team needs to slow down its pace, even in the heat of the race for home court in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Celtics have already guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs and really look to be no less than the No. 3 seed. The Celts should win the Atlantic Division with ease, as the rest of their division is very mediocre. Philadelphia is the only other team who would have a spot in the playoffs if the season were to end today, and they’re 16.5 games behind the Green. Thus, the team’s healthy players need to relax their paced for the remainder of the season.
Since the injuries to Garnett and Rondo, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have had increased minutes in an effort to grab the No. 1 seed in the East. This is probably not a good strategy with only 17 games left in the season. Doc needs to start shutting down his all stars and getting them some much needed rest so they are still healthy come playoff time. When the Celtics are fully healthy, they will be a major threat in the playoffs even if they are a No. 3 seed, but if every player is exhausted come playoff time, then the Celtics probably will not make it out of the second round.
Garnett is now expected to be in action sometime around March 20. Rondo, meanwhile, is expected back hopefully this coming Sunday. With the return of the rest of the starting line-up, the Celtics can give their bench players some rest as well. They will really need it especially after stepping up so much to try and fill in the holes left by all the injuries.
In the meantime, I really think Doc needs to stretch out his bench even further than he has been. It has been great to see Bill Walker get some increased minutes, but Gabe Pruitt and J.R. Giddens should be seeing more minutes than they have been. More of the bench means less of the starts, because if the starters keep pouring in 40+ minutes per game, then the playoffs might be a short trip.