Doc Rivers know all about monitoring the minutes of a veteran player. For his final seasons in Boston, Rivers kept Kevin Garnett to a strict minutes limit that maximized Garnett’s productivity while keeping the veteran big man as happy and healthy as possible.
But even Rivers knows that approach isn’t a solution for everyone.
Like a lot of fans, Rivers has been watching what has unfolded in Brooklyn with puzzlement. Pierce and Garnett, who were traded to the Nets last summer shortly after the Celtics and Clippers reached a deal for Rivers to coach in Los Angeles, appear to have lost their games overnight as the Nets sink farther down the standings. It’s preposterous to think Pierce and Garnett aged so quickly after being so productive last season, Rivers told Bleacher Report, but he did imply some of the blame lies with Nets coach Jason Kidd.
“[Pierce] can score anywhere,” Rivers told Howard Beck. “I think he was more uncomfortable with the short minutes that they were [playing him], like they did with Kevin. And that’s not Paul. Paul doesn’t work under those type of minutes — at least, in my opinion he doesn’t. He’s a guy that needs rhythm to play.
“In Kevin’s case, on a 20-minute restriction, of course his numbers are going to be down. So I think, at some point, he probably is going to have to play more minutes to improve, so he can get a better rhythm himself.”
Garnett is playing the fewest minutes of his 19-year career as he struggles to find his role on the directionless Nets. Garnett’s offensive feel looks shot and, most surprisingly, his defensive performance has suffered as well, but his rebounds per 36 minutes are his best in nine years.
Pierce has been sidelined with a broken bone in his right hand and was doubtful for Tuesday’s game against the Celtics. He is averaging 12.4 points and shooting just 36.8 percent from the field in 29.1 minutes per game. All are career lows.