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Doc Rivers rolls the dice with Rajon Rondo and gets away with one

12.13.12 at 1:55 am ET
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The final box score Wednesday night reads that Rajon Rondo played 52 minutes, 30 seconds of the 58 minutes of Boston’s 117-115 double-overtime win over Dallas.

Doc Rivers said he could see Rondo’s minutes getting up there, especially toward the end of regulation and gambled by leaving him in the game, hoping the Celtics could hold onto their lead with four minutes left.

‘€œWell I thought we started walking the ball up the floor,” Rivers said. “I thought our tempo changed in the fourth quarter. You know, it’€™s funny: they went small, we went small, you would think your tempo would increase. We actually went the other way. I thought the biggest mistake I made, actually, is keeping Rondo in that long.

“I thought I took the gamble, and sometimes it’€™s a good one sometimes it’€™s a bad one and I didn’€™t think this was a good one. I just thought he got tired. You know, I didn’€™t give them that normal rest two minutes before the fourth and let him get some rest. I mean obviously I didn’€™t anticipate a double overtime game. But I thought that had an impact on him and on his speed in the game. I told our guys with like four minutes left ‘€“ my coaches, because then it was too late ‘€“ I said, ‘€˜This was not a good decision.’€™ And that decision could’€™ve hurt us.’€

But it didn’t cost the Celtics – in part – because Rondo and the Celtics forced 28 turnovers against the Mavericks, leading to 34 points.

‘€œWell, we’€™ve been trapping,” Rivers said. “I’€™ve been talking about it a lot and over the past seven games it’€™s been paying dividends for us. It’€™s been terrific. I told our guys, we also broke our own record with deflections. So we had ‘€“ I don’€™t know what the number was now ‘€“ but we had 100 deflections it felt like, we had 27 turnovers, because we couldn’€™t make a shot.

“You know, I didn’€™t like our shots that we got down the stretch. But overall we had a lot of good shots and they just wasn’€™t going in. So we won a game where a team shot 51 percent, and the other team, us, shot 43 percent. That was happening to us earlier in the year if you remember; we lost a couple games where it was the exact opposite. So, when you get more possessions like that, you give yourself a chance to win the game. I told the guys I was proud of them; I thought we made some mistakes that later in the year we can’€™t make down the stretch of games: the foul to give, didn’€™t call a time out, pass the ball so we couldn’€™t advance it before the first overtime. Those are plays that can’€™t happen. But through all those mistakes we still won the game, so as a coach we’€™ll take that.’€

Kevin Garnett had 40 minutes himself in the marathon.

‘€œHe held up, and fortunately we are taking [Thursday] off,” Rivers said. “Whenever you have an 8 o’clock game you’€™re taking the day off anyway. So, you know, I don’€™t want that but it had to happen tonight.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, NBA
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