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05.14.09 at 1:05 pm ET

ORLANDO – Doc Rivers could live without suspense for once.

On their way to a 17th title, the Celtics head coach watched nervously on the sideline as his team was pressed to seven games against Atlanta and Cleveland before finally learning the art of closing out a seven-game series in Game 6 in Detroit. They repeated the feat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers.

Fast forward to the present, and the urgency to seal the deal in Game 6 tonight in Orlando is obvious. While courageous, gritty and determined, clearly these Celtics are weary and thin. They had that chance in Game 6 in Chicago before the epic triple-overtime loss spoiled their plans.

Now, a team that is relying on a remarkably thin bench has a chance to rest up for Cleveland.

“Last year, you didn’t want them but you felt great in a Game 7 because you had all your horses,” Rivers recalled Thursday morning following the team’s shoot around. “This year is different. So, any chance you have a chance to win or close them out, you’ve got to do it. Unfortunately, the other team is going to have something to say about that. So we’ve got to play a great game because they’re going to play well tonight.”

In Game 5, Rivers used only one big man off the bench, a weakened Brian Scalabrine, to spell the front court trio of Paul Pierce, Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins. Rivers compensated by often going with three guards, making Stephon Marbury’s clutch performance in the fourth quarter so important.

“We kind of knew who we’re going to play,” Rivers said. “We still have Tony (Allen) we can throw in there and Mikki (Moore) we can throw in there at times. But yeah, it’s got to be the shortest rotation in playoff history right now but it’s what we have and what we’re comfortable with. That’s it. It’s exhausting for the guys who are playing but that’s what we have.”

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, Magic, NBA playoffs
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