By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
They say that depth doesn't matter in the playoffs as much as the regular season. With few exceptions, teams shorten their rotations in an effort to squeeze every little drop of value from their best players.
For most of this series, the substitution patterns of Doc Rivers and Mike Woodson have supported this. The Celtics were not deep to begin with, and as they've clawed back from a 3-0 deficit, they've trimmed the fat and it's paid dividends. In Game 4 -- an overtime game, keep in mind -- only six guys played more than 11 minutes. In the Game 5 victory at the Garden, only seven guys played, period.
Rivers decided that watching Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford struggle wasn't going to get the job done, so he instead leaned even more heavily on his starters and Jason Terry off the bench. Terrence Jones has given them some solid minutes the last two games, but that's it. You'd think a veteran team like Boston with limited size might shuffle a few extra guys in here and there to give the starters a breather or take a few fouls, but the opposite has been true.
For the Knicks, things are trending the same way. After playing as many as 10 guys nine minutes or more early in the series, Woodson has begun to pare down his rotation, as well; In Game 5, only eight guys played more than three minutes.
Woodson mentioned after practice on Thursday that he expects to use Pablo Prigioni more. Steve Novak, who had been receiving a small share of minutes throughout the series, figures to lose them due to a back issue and a lack of versatility.
We've seen Boston's continuity give them an edge in the last two games, but now with Prigioni settling back into his role and J.R. Smith with a game under his belt to get reacclimated after his suspension, we could see a bump in efficiency for the Knicks -- particularly on the offensive end.
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