Sasha Pavlovic Thrust Into Key Defensive Role Against LeBron James, Could Contribute for Celtics in Playoffs

BOSTON — April is a new month for Sasha Pavlovic.

Pavlovic played a total of 105 minutes, or less than nine minutes per game, for the Celtics in March. He attempted fewer field goals (30) in the month than his pregame shooting partner, Avery Bradley, attempted (53) during a five-game run as the starting shooting guard.

Cold and rusty but raring to go, Pavlovic was called upon Sunday to play meaningful minutes against the best basketball player on the planet. He responded by helping the Celtics hassle LeBron James in Boston's 91-72 victory.

"You've just got to do your job, man," Pavlovic said after playing 14 minutes, 4 seconds, the most he has played in a single game since March 9. "That's what you get paid to do. You've got to stay ready."

Pavlovic stays sharp by shooting early before games and staying late after practice to do extra cardio and weightlifting work. At 6-foot-8, 220 pounds, he has excellent size for a wing player. Before the Celtics signed Mickael Pietrus and Bradley emerged as a defensive force, Pavlovic was arguably the team's best defender off the bench.

The limited playing time affected Pavlovic's shooting, which fell to a career-low 35 percent from the field, but his defense remained strong. His experience covering James as a teammate with the Cavaliers came in handy on Sunday, but the 28-year-old Montenegrin stopped well short of boasting that he could stop the two-time league MVP.

"I played with him for five years and I guarded him in practice," Pavlovic said. "I know him pretty well, but he's still going to get his. You've just got to make it hard for him."

A lack of playing time has been hard for Pavlovic, but on Sunday he was ready when called.

Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

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