Brad Stevens and the Celtics coaching staff had a different approach than the Cavaliers in terms of making sure players are rested for the playoffs. Rather than benching players for whole games at a time, Boston simply kept great time management throughout every game of the season.
Even Isaiah Thomas, who is obviously one of the main reasons why the No. 1 seed Celtics are where they are, only played 33.8 minutes on an average night. Compare that to LeBron James' 37.8 or Kyrie Irving's 35.1 and you can see how Stevens closely monitored the fatigue that was put on his players. This is why he felt comfortable playing everyone in the season finale against the Bucks on Wednesday and when he was questioned about rest, he had this to say:
Asked about not resting players, Stevens says, "We feel really good about our total minutes & our minutes played heading into the Playoffs."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 12, 2017
And he has reason to feel good about their minutes. Here is how many minutes per game their five starters and two most used bench players averaged this season and how that compares to the rest of the NBA:
By the way, LeBron and Kyrie's formerly mentioned MPG rank 1st and 15th in the NBA, respectively. Not having a single player finish in the top-30 for MPG - not even an All-Star who finished third in the league in scoring - shows that the Celtics really didn't need to rest for full games.
Plus, injuries over the season stunted many players' total time spent on the court:
Brad Stevens on @MikeAndMike: Silver lining of injuries "we've missed a lot of games already" and are well rested heading into playoffs.— Mark Van Deusen (@LucidSportsFan) April 11, 2017
For those curious, here is how Boston players' league rankings change when you look at total minutes rather than minutes per game:
Al Horford and Avery Bradley drop off quite a bit due to their missed time, while Jae Crowder also slips a little from his minor injury hiccups.
Now, with the playoffs set to start on Sunday, the Celtics are feeling good. Everyone is healthy, fresh, and ready to go thanks to smart year-long time management.
Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images Erik Johnson 4/13/2017 10:29:00 AM Tweet Edit