Celtics try to balance regular-season dominance with rest

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The Celtics are very good. The Celtics are also very old. Last season, the Celtics coasted to a 50-win season before flipping the switch in the playoffs and running through the Heat, Cavaliers, and Magic before pushing the Lakers to seven games in the NBA finals. This year the Celtics have been taking the regular season more seriously, to say the least. The 19-4 Celtics have been the best team in the Eastern Conference, and have won their last 10 games by an average of 14.6 points.

Still, Doc Rivers is doing best to keep his veteran team from pushing itself too hard, and the Celtics’ practice schedule has been less than rigorous. Here’s the report, courtesy of the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett:

The Celtics didn’t practice yesterday. They won’t practice today either. They may win the NBA championship this season, but the title of “Hardest Working Team in Show Business” is probably out of reach. And that’s by necessity.

Doc Rivers knows he must preserve his veterans if he hopes to lead them to a successful June. If that means they lose touch with the moniker worn by the late James Brown, well, so be it…

…Guard Ray Allen understands the difficult position that schedule, age and injury have combined to create.

“Even the practices we’ve had, there’s been a problem because so many guys have been out,” he said. “But it’s still helpful any time you can practice. You get to go over things — positioning, points of emphasis. Practice is always good. Unfortunately we have to heal up in the days between these games, so Doc is somewhat in a dilemma.:

“We don’t need any more injuries, so you have to try to avoid those problems. And so far we’ve been fine. Our energy’s been good…”

As point guard Rajon Rondo put it while he iced his feet late Saturday, “We’re doing a pretty good job without practicing.”

The Celtics’ winning streak has been great, but it’s also good to see that they haven’t lost sight of their ultimate goal and are trying their best to stay fresh for the end of the season. It may be frustrating for Celtics fans to watch their team drop a game or two at some point during the season because of sloppy execution, but Doc Rivers didn’t come back this season for a shot at the best record in the Eastern Conference. He came back for a shot at a championship.

Grizzlies’ James Ennis fouls out then hits half-court shot (video)

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Against the Pacers last night, James Ennis missed all three of his 3-point attempts… that counted. And he makes this one after fouling out?

Mike Conley more than picked up the slack to lead the Grizzlies to victory.

Pelicans’ Dante Cunningham jumps on scorer’s table, Anthony Davis jumps on him (video)

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The Pelicans are effectively out of the playoff race, but Dante Cunningham and Anthony Davis are still competing — even if it looks a little silly.

That tone and a big game from DeMarcus Cousins (29 points, 16 rebounds, six assists) led to a 121-118 win over the Mavericks.

Goran Dragic puts alley-oop pass through rim (video)

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Goran Dragic is very good at alley-oops.

Too good.

With a “shot” like that falling, the Heat trounced the Knicks, 105-88.

Hawks’ Tim Hardaway Jr. kneed in the groin while defending 76ers (video)

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Since trading for him, the Hawks have gotten Tim Hardaway Jr. to buy in defensively.

After this help defense on 76ers center Richaun Holmes cost him dearly, I wouldn’t blame Hardaway if he gave up on the endeavor entirely.