|Keyon Dooling made the most of a rare start, scoring 17 points in 32 minutes. (John Amis/Associated Press)|
Pierce, Garnett get the night off
ATLANTA - Doc Rivers made it abundantly clear Friday: He chooses rest over home-court advantage.
The Celtics coach sat Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for what could serve as a critical game against the Hawks to determine home court for a potential first-round playoff series. The Hawks are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Celtics after last night’s 97-92 victory, and have three games left - home games against the Knicks, Clippers, and Mavericks.
The Celtics get three days off beginning Saturday and end the season at home with the Heat Tuesday and Bucks Thursday. Rivers said he targeted this game as an opportunity to get his frontline players rest. He didn’t envision Ray Allen (ankle), Rajon Rondo (back), and Mickael Pietrus (knee) being injured, but stuck with his decision.
“Because of the schedule, of 11 out of 15, and then because of the schedule that we play today and don’t play until Tuesday, this is something [we had to do],’’ he said. “We didn’t account for the way things turned out [with injuries]. But it just didn’t work out.’’
Rivers said he told Garnett and Pierce that if they beat Orlando, he would give them Friday off. The two players refute that agreement.
“Neither one of them [pushed to play] and that tells you all you need to know,’’ Rivers said. “When Kevin wants to sit, he’s telling you a lot.’’
Rivers went with Keyon Dooling at shooting guard, Sasha Pavlovic at power forward, and Greg Stiemsma at center.
Sean Williams was in uniform for the Celtics. The former Boston College center wore No. 56 after he was signed in the morning for the rest of the season. He saw 3 minutes, 27 seconds of action against the Hawks, registering one rebound. Williams has experienced his share of issues during his college and professional career, but Rivers said the team did an extensive background check on Williams, who was recently waived by the Mavericks.
“He’s done well, it looks like he’s matured a little bit,’’ Rivers said. “We’ll find that out. But as a player he can block shots, he can rebound, he can run the floor. We’re going to give him an honest look.’’
Williams said he was grateful for the opportunity. He worked out for the Celtics two weeks ago and received the word Wednesday that he would be signed.
“Thankful to be here with these guys,’’ he said. “An opportunity to come out here and work hard and work toward getting a championship. I just want to come in, assimilate, come in and try to help these guys reach their goal.’’
Dooling is a member of the executive committee and first vice president of the NBA Players’ Association. After reports surfaced that the committee was looking to oust president Derek Fisher because he requested an audit of union finances, Dooling expressed anger that union business is being leaked to the media.
“I can say that I’m a union man and I don’t air union business,’’ he said. “And I wish that every man that’s in our union would have the same principles as I do. It upsets me that we don’t have the same cohesiveness that other tight-knit organizations have for whatever reason, whether it’s reporters working angles, whether it’s people putting things out, it’s ridiculous, it’s hideous, and it disgusts me that we can’t keep our union business in house.
“Somebody’s talking. It’s not me, I’m not airing union business. I want to protect the integrity of my players and what we fight for and our rights. And we don’t do that through the media and through the public. It does nothing good to have that out.’’
Dooling said he has no interest in replacing Fisher, who has maintained he won’t resign.
The NBPA released a statement Friday asking for the resignation of Fisher with an 8-0 vote that included Dooling.
“The Executive Committee based its decision on numerous instances over the past six months where Fisher engaged in conduct detrimental to the union, including acting in contravention of the players’ best interests during collective bargaining, declining to follow the NBPA Constitution, and failing to uphold the duties of the Union President,’’ the statement read. “To avoid further damage to the NBPA and its 450 members, the Executive Board again calls for Derek’s resignation.’’
Fisher has been president since 2006.
“I, along with many others, are extremely disappointed with the Executive Committee,’’ Fisher said Friday in a statement. “Their demand for my resignation and their need to protect the NBPA management and their own best interests instead of protecting the players we were elected to serve is unfortunate.’’
Center Greg Stiemsma was limited to 9 minutes, 35 seconds because of recurrent plantar fasciitis in his right foot and a bone bruise in his left. He does not participate in practice or shootarounds to rest his feet . . . Marquis Daniels’s 12 points was his most since scoring 13 against Houston on Jan. 10, 2011 . . . To make room for Williams, the Celtics waived Jermaine O’Neal.