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An ugly game could be a thing of beauty for Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels


To Doc Rivers [1], no minutes or players are ever insignificant. Even in a game that had most starters on both sides taking the night off to rest for the playoffs.

To Rivers, a game like Tuesday is the perfect time to get players like Marquis Daniels [2] and Sasha Pavlovic [3] tuned up, just in case he might be needed in the playoffs. And given how this year has progressed, it’s certainly a good idea not to rule any possibility out.

Pavlovic had 12 of his game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, as he made five of his six attempts from the floor, while Daniels sparked the surge that put the game away with a high-flying dunk as the Celtics [4] beat the Heat, 78-66, at the Garden.

Like most of the starters on both teams, Pavlovic did not have a good start to the game. He was on the floor with the starters who opened the game 0-for-7 for Boston as the Celtics fell behind 11-0. He missed both of his shots in the opening 12 minutes and was scoreless in the first half.

But then he turned it on in the second half, finishing with a flourish in the fourth quarter when he nailed a couple of open threes during a 10-0 Boston run.

‘€œIf I’€™m wide open I shouldn’€™t be hesitant and that’€™s what I’€™m trying to do,” Pavlovic said. “The most important thing with me, just don’€™t think and shoot the ball when I’€™m wide open. I started kind of slow in the first half, Doc was on me about that. He told me just to play to it, I took a couple bad shots in the first half. I just came out in the second half and played as hard as I could defensively and whenever I had an open shot I just took it.’€

“That was huge for Sasha. I thought it was ‘€“ especially in the fact that Sasha really struggled in the first half and then he came in the second half and played terrific,” Rivers said.

Daniels and Pavlovic have both spent time this season, languishing at the end of the Celtics’ bench with little or no hope of playing time. “DNP-Coach’s Decision” has appeared on their line in many boxscores this season.

But not Tuesday. On a night the Celtics kept alive their hopes of home court advantage [5], both of them had big roles as Kevin Garnett [6], Rajon Rondo [7], Ray Allen [8], Mickael Pietrus [9] and Greg Stiemsma [10] got the night off.

‘€œWe play together at practices and for all season and we can know each other and know what we can do and that’€™s what we use on the court,’€ Pavlovic said. ‘€œI’€™ve always told [media], I’€™m just going to get out there and play as hard as I can defensively and I know we are down a couple guys, but at playoffs its not going to be like that so I just get out there and play my role whatever it is that night.’€

‘€œWe were grinding our team, some nights are going to be like that,” Daniels said. “We just got stick with it, just got to get better defensively and offensively. We kind of picked up going into the second half and it worked out well for us.’€

Pavlovic and Daniels both insisted after Tuesday’s game they’ll be ready should their number be called in the playoffs.

‘€œJust trying to make sure I’€™m ready whenever my number is called. Staying after late, getting a workout in, coming in early, getting a workout in. Just taking advantage of the time that I get.’€

“You know it every year: someone who plays a little bit comes in in the playoffs and has a big game for you,” Rivers said. “Marquis, all those guys I thought the game was very important for.’€