Doc Rivers Wary of Extended Minutes Played by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett in Game 3 Overtime Win

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Doc Rivers Wary of Extended Minutes Played by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett in Game 3 Overtime WinBOSTON — Kevin Garnett has a schedule.

He was unaware of that schedule, the veteran big man revealed Friday, but since the beginning of the season Celtics coach Doc Rivers has closely monitored Garnett's playing time.

The format has been labeled the "5-5-5" plan for the substitution pattern the coach has in place for his 35-year-old center: five minutes on the court, five minutes on the bench, rinse and repeat.

The Celtics adhered to that pattern for most of the season, but Rivers departed from the plan Friday. Short of big men and in need of Garnett's defensive leadership, the Celtics called upon Garnett to play 42 minutes in a 90-84 victory in overtime of Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks.

After scoring 20 points and grabbing 18 rebounds, Garnett had a new nickname for the plan.

"The way my body feels right now, I feel like I went 40-40-40," Garnett said. "I can't tell five, five, five. For the time I'm in there, I'm going as hard as I can, trying to be an outstanding influence on the game. I'm not paying attention to how long I'm in there or not."

Garnett was not the only player who may have been overextended on Friday. Paul Pierce played 47 minutes, following up on his 44 minutes in Game 2, and Rajon Rondo logged 49 minutes. Ray Allen, playing for the first time since April 10, chipped in 37 minutes off the bench.

Rivers had no choice but to call off practice for Saturday, given the wear on many of his key players.

"Too many minutes," Rivers said in a tone that made it sound like the Celtics had lost, not won. "I got stuck with Kevin, honestly. Usually we take him out at the six-minute mark in the fourth. That was right when we were starting to make a push."

Pierce, who shot just 3-for-12 from the field and scored the bulk of his 21 points at the free throw line, disputed the idea that he or any of his teammates played too much.

"The playoffs are hard," Pierce said. "Sometimes the coach is going to ask a lot out of you. I went the distance again in the second half. It proved worth it."

Although it resulted in a win, at the end Rivers did not like what he saw. Pierce, Garnett, Rondo and Allen seemed to be dragging toward the finish, and the coach felt his gamble had backfired, win or lose. It was little consolation when he looked at the Hawks, decimated by injuries, and realized they did not look so hot either.

After 69 regular season and playoff games, the Celtics are asking even more of their stars. This is the playoffs, where the most well-laid plans often get dismissed when circumstances demand more.

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

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