Beyond the numbers: Celtics players ‘in pretty good shape'


BOSTON – It seems like every NBA coach of a playoff-bound squad is doing the Gregg Popovich this week; you know, sitting their best players to be as fit and rested as possible for the playoffs.
But Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens has maintained for weeks that he’s not going to go down that path, recognizing that his players have already missed a significant number of games due to illnesses and injuries and have already benefited to some extent from not having the wear and tear that comes about when playing an 82-game season.
But how rested are these Boston Celtics players anyway?
While there’s no definitive means to measure that, one statistic does speak to how Stevens and the entire Celtics staff have gone about trying to ensure their core players don’t play major minutes even when healthy.
In fact, Isaiah Thomas is the only Celtics player whose minutes played this season ranks among the top 50 in the NBA.
Thomas, who has played 2,547 minutes this season, ranks 27th in the league in minutes played per game which is incredible when you consider his 29.1 points per game average ranks second in the NBA and tops in the Eastern Conference.
Of the players who rank among the league’s top 10 scorers per game this season, Thomas joins San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (2,444 minutes) and New Orleans center (and ex-teammate in Sacramento) DeMarcus Cousins (2,465 minutes) as the only ones not ranked among the league’s top 25 in total minutes played this season.  
This speaks to why Stevens isn’t overly concerned with his players getting enough rest for what the Celtics anticipate will be a long playoff run.
“We feel like from the standpoint of rest and freshness, we’re in pretty good shape,” Stevens said. “When you look at it from a total minutes and minutes per game standpoint, total number of games, we tried our best to manage those things appropriately all year. And we got the silver lining of injuries, people missed games. We should be ready to go.”
Courtesy of NBA stats guru Dick Lipe, here’s a breakdown of the total minutes played by the rest of Boston’s top seven and where those minutes played ranks in the NBA this season.
Marcus Smart – 2,372 minutes (52nd in the NBA)
Jae Crowder – 2,305 minutes (59th)
Al Horford – 2,172 minutes (79th)
Avery Bradley – 1,804 minutes (134th)
Amir Johnson – 1,589 minutes (171st)
Kelly Olynyk 1,515 minutes (187th)

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