Celtics coach Doc Rivers made some significant decisions over the All-Star break, with perhaps the most telling that he plans to shorten the team’s bench.
Rivers believed the Celtics needed to use 11 to 12 players in the first half of the season because of the lockout and abbreviated training camp. But after struggling to a 15-17 record before the break, the coach said he has decided to reduce that number to nine.
That means players such as Marquis Daniels, JaJuan Johnson, and E’Twaun Moore will have their minutes reduced.
Moore, a rookie guard from Purdue, was believed to be a potential rotation player, but the vast improvement of Avery Bradley has relegated Moore to the inactive list. Daniels, Johnson, and Greg Stiemsma are likely to play meaningful minutes only in the case of foul trouble.
With Sunday’s 115-111 overtime victory against the Knicks at TD Garden the Celtics have won four consecutive games since the break, and Rivers’s decision indicates that he believes the players are finally in shape.
“These four games, if you notice, we’re basically at nine,’’ Rivers said. “And that’s what we’re going to do. The only guy - obviously with overtime it’s kind of skewed - but the only guy that I really tried to limit minutes is Kevin [Garnett]. He can have an occasional 40-minute night, he just can’t have many of them.
“But I like our rotation, I tightened it on purpose. I told our coaches after the Oklahoma City game, ‘When we come back, there’s nine guys. And that’ll be it.’ Every once in a while when we can go 10 we will, but that 10th guy right now is going to be a short-minute guy, whoever it is. And I like what we’re doing.’’
Garnett has four double-doubles in the past five games and played 41 minutes Sunday. Ray Allen played 45 and Paul Pierce 46. It was Garnett’s most regular-season minutes since Jan. 6, 2009.
Crimson in clover
Harvard president Drew Faust was at the game, sporting her 2011 Ivy League basketball title pendant. She suddenly is the leader of not only one of the world’s finest academic institutions, but the school that produced NBA sensation Jeremy Lin.
It’s an exciting time for Harvard hoop fans, who will be watching intently Tuesday when Penn faces Princeton. A Princeton victory would give the Crimson their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1946.
“[Lin’s] an inspiration I think for everybody,’’ Faust said before the game. “I saw him play at Lavietes [Pavilion] and I sat with his parents on a couple of occasions watching him when he was an undergraduate, and he was wonderful to watch then. But this is a dream come true for him, obviously, and it models the notion of student-athlete in such a powerful way for people all over the United States to see that people from Harvard can achieve in such a dramatic fashion in athletics.’’
“The impact of Jeremy Lin is that he has become such an international figure,’’ Faust said. “And the attention to him in Asia and all around the world has been so intense that I think Harvard’s profile has been enhanced in a new way with Jeremy’s prominence and success.’’
Green takes in game
Jeff Green was on hand, shaking hands and sharing pleasantries with former teammates. He spoke with Rivers in his office before the game and watched the game from the Celtics bench.
Green is an unrestricted free agent, but the Celtics have supported him through his recovery from surgery to repair an aortic root.
Green, who did not speak with reporters, is expected to play next season, and the Celtics are interested in bringing him back.
O’Neal: Decision time
Rivers said center Jermaine O’Neal is still in the decision-making process regarding his left wrist. His choices are season-ending surgery, minor surgery that will mean he has to play with pain, or a cortisone shot. If O’Neal decides to have season-ending surgery, the Celtics could waive him and sign another center . . . After going 1 for 6 from the 3-point line, Mickael Pietrus is 7 for his past 36 from beyond the arc . . . Allen picked up his first technical foul of the season after jawing with J.R. Smith before an inbounds pass in the third quarter. Allen had a technical foul during the Christmas opener with the Knicks rescinded . . . Former Celtic Bill Walker will miss 4-6 weeks after elbow surgery. Walker hasn’t played since Feb. 19 . . . The Celtics’ 14 turnovers were their fewest since Feb. 16 against the Bulls, when they committed seven.Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.