Celtics starters aren't going to bail bench out


WALTHAMNo one would fault Doc Rivers if he went to his core guys - Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett - and asked them to carry a little bit more of the load while their new teammates caught up.

But Rivers knows as much as his Big Three would be totally cool with that, this team - Rivers' team - can not function in that manner.

With so many new, moving parts to bring together, Rivers understands that there will be some growing pains along the way.

Part of that pain involves the aches, bumps and bruises that we are seeing now, a time when the Celtics' core guys and the newbies to C's family are working through their differences to get on the same page.

So if you're thinking you'll see more KG, Pierce or Rondo than usual, that's not happening under Rivers' watch.

"No. No. I'm not going to let them do more," Rivers said. "I'm going to play Kevin the same amount of minutes. Paul, Rondo you can go anywhere. But if we can't win with them off the floor, we just won't win."

Still, the direction that the Celtics take during the early stages of the season will be guided in large part by Rondo, Garnett and Pierce.

So while it's clear that they will be leaned upon, "they're leaning on us, too," said Celtics guard Jason Terry who is in his first year with the C's after eight seasons with the Dallas Mavericks.

Terry added, "The quicker we (newcomers) can get together, the better rhythm we'll be as a team."

A number of the new players, Terry included, show up 15 minutes early to practice to run through some plays and work on getting the terminology down pat.

"We've also been staying late," Terry added. "Hopefully that will pay off."

It certainly has lately; at least it has to the ultimate barometer of what's good - and not so good - with the Celtics, Kevin Garnett.

The last couple of days, Garnett said there has been a better "edge" to the C's in practice, the kind of fire he has been looking for in his teammates.

"When we practice, we practice the way we play," Garnett said. "Since I've been here, the coaches been ... come in, bust your ass, do your job and know your role; do your role to the fullest, accept your role and practice hard for two hours. We're not going to change that culture. While I'm here, we're not going to change that culture. For right now, that's the way we are."

Garnett added, "Doc does a good job of explaining roles, telling you who you are and where he needs you to be in the system. It's up to you to accept it. That's just what it is. You either do or you don't. It's been that way since I've been here, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be that way as long as Doc is coach."

And just so there's no confusion, Rivers made a point of telling the team's newcomers and backups that they simply have to maximize the opportunities they get when their number is called.

"We're going to play the minutes I am giving them (core guys), and the bench is going to play the minutes they should get," Rivers said. "They have to do something, or they won't win. It's that simple."

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