MIAMI — Jeff Green left the Celtics’ 109-101 loss at Miami Friday with a bruised left elbow but said he expects to play Saturday at Orlando.
Green, who scored a game-high 25 points, suffered his injury with 10:03 left in the fourth quarter, when he landed on the elbow following a dunk. The forward left the game with 8:28 remaining and was grimacing on the bench, where he was fitted for a sleeve. He went to the locker room and did not return.
“Any time you hit a nerve, it feels numb down the whole arm,” Green said. “And [the feeling] wouldn’t come back as fast as I wanted to, because we were still playing. But I’m fine.”
Green said he fell because Heat center Chris Andersen undercut him when Green jumped to dunk.
“I felt his feet undercut mine,” Green said. “I know it wasn’t on purpose. It was just something. [The elbow] was the first thing that hit. I’m cool, man.”
Said coach Doc Rivers of Green’s elbow, “I don’t think it’s bad, but I don’t know. We’ll know [Saturday]. I don’t even think they’ll do an X-ray, but I don’t know that either.”
Taking a breather
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce missed the game to rest their sore ankles, but Rivers said the two veterans should play Saturday.
“We have back-to-backs and we’re trying to avoid back-to-backs, to be honest,” the coach said before the morning shootaround at AmericanAirlines Arena. “I just thought this would be a way to do it. A lot of talk didn’t go into it.”
It’s likely that Garnett and Pierce will sit again next week, when the Celtics have a back-to-back (at home against Indiana, at Toronto) to end the regular season.
Without their veteran leaders, the Celtics went with a starting lineup of guards Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, and Jordan Crawford with forwards Green and Brandon Bass .
The Heat, however, started their Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Wade (knee soreness) had missed six straight games.
“I could care less,” Rivers said when asked about Miami playing its stars against one of its bitter rivals, especially after a recent war of words between Danny Ainge and Pat Riley. “That doesn’t have anything to do with us. That’s more for them.”
Miami forwards Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier didn’t play, each suffering various injuries.
Jason Terry shot 3 of 9 from the floor, extending his shooting slump. He has shot 35 percent (14 of 40) in the Celtics’ last five games.
“It’s tougher for Jason when the other guys aren’t out there,” Rivers said. “We knew that coming in. When he’s your game plan, which I guarantee you [that] they talked about Jason Terry before the game, it’s going to be a tough night for him to make plays for other people, which I thought he did.”
Rivers said he was confident that Terry would play well in the postseason.
“I really am,” he said. “I think he’ll be great.”
Rivers said he’d like to sit Terry for one of the Celtics’ three remaining games to give the 35-year-old guard a chance to rest.
“I’m just going to let him make the call,” Terry said. “If he sits me, I’m not going to fight it. And [I’ll] be ready for the playoffs.”
Road or recovery
Rajon Rondo has been spending time with the Celtics during recent home games, but Rivers said the All-Star guard, who is recovering from knee surgery, doesn’t need to travel with the team during the playoffs.
“I think he may some,” Rivers said. “I think that guy, whoever it is, I think they have to be comfortable in whatever they’re doing. And their job is to get healthy, even though it’s for next year.
“To me, that’s where their focus needs to stay — not traveling with us and getting behind. Rondo is on a tight schedule to get back for next year. I don’t need him traveling with us and getting off that schedule.”
“Shavlik Randolph: Instigator.” That was the term Rivers used to describe the 6-foot-10-inch forward, who has become the first Boston big man off the bench, ahead of center Chris Wilcox.
“He’s a natural instigator,” Rivers said. “It’s not the fake instigator who tries to start stuff. He doesn’t do any of that. He plays so hard that he really gets under the skin of his opponents. And you like that. Forget that he’s our best rebounder, too.”
Randolph joined the Celtics in February after playing in China, and through 13 games entering Friday he was averaging 4.8 points and 5 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game. He went scoreless in 10 minutes against the Heat.
“I still say what Red [Auerbach] said all the time: As many instigators as you can get on your team, you want them,” Rivers said. “And [Randolph is] one of those. He does it in practice. In every practice, he gets under somebody’s skin because he outworks them, he outrebounds. He’s a great player to have on your team.”
Randolph said he’ll consider that a compliment.
“In a game, you can hit first or you can get hit first. When I’m out there, I try not to be the one to get hit first,” Randolph said, explaining his approach. “If I get called for a couple of fouls because I’m being overaggressive, that’s fine. I’d rather make mistakes being too aggressive then not being aggressive enough.”
Rivers said that Randolph would “most likely” be apart of the playoff rotation..Baxter Holmes can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.