With a first-round matchup against the Cavaliers guaranteed, Brad Stevens took the cautious route in the regular season finale in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, resting Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas. That meant plenty of playing time for back-of-the-rotation guys, including small forward Luigi Datome, who made the first start of his NBA career in his 55th game.
Datome seized the opportunity and ran with it on what turned out to be a career night for him: He scored a game-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 3-for-7 from downtown, in 27 minutes of a 105-100 win.
It was a nice bounceback game for Datome, who had fallen out of the rotation in recent games.
After coming to Boston from Detroit at the trade deadline, he appeared in just three of his first 10 games before posting his previous season high, 13 points, in a win at Miami on March 9 and becoming something of a fan favorite.
Although Stevens called Datome one of the best shooters he's ever seen, his playing time has been erratic, and he had four DNP-CDs in eight April games.
What can't be denied is that he has made the most of the chances he has had, shooting 49.4 percent as a Celtic, including 47.2 percent on three-pointers. In 18 games played for Boston, Datome has averaged 5.2 points in 10.7 minutes.
Celtics fans shouldn't expect to see a lot of Datome against the Cavs. Despite his 6'8", 215-pound frame, he has little chance of successfully guarding LeBron James, and he averages just 1.4 rebounds per game. Still, he has shown flashes of the skill that made him a young star in Europe. Datome will be a restricted free agent after the season, and there will be plenty of people in Boston hoping the Celtics re-sign him.