The Boston Celtics were still in the hunt for home-court advantage in their first-round series against Atlanta when they took the floor against the Miami Heat on Tuesday night. But from their list of absentees, it's clear that getting a potential Game 7 on their floor is not the Celts' primary goal.
With the 78-66 win over Miami and the Hawks' win over the Clippers, the Celts have to beat Milwaukee on Thursday and hope Atlanta falls to Dallas.
But that extra game at home isn't entirely what the Celts are after.
While Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma all have legitimate injuries, the reason none of them played Tuesday was at least partially for maintenance with the playoffs coming this weekend. That point was clear when the C's kept Paul Pierce and Garnett out for rest last Friday in Atlanta.
"Once you make the call, you make the call," coach Doc Rivers said when asked if he had any regrets about keeping the two out of that game, which could make a big difference when home court is decided for the first round. "At the end of the day, listen: health. And if you're not healthy, it won't matter. So for me, once I made the call, it wasn't a hard call. We pretty much saw it. So for us we just made the call and moved on. We didn't think about it afterwards much at all."
Pierce is on the same page with Rivers on the matter of rest over seeding.
"Well, home court is great," Pierce said. "You want to have home court. You want to try to play for home court. At the end of the day, we want to be healthy first.
"We're definitely a better home team (23-9) than we are a road team (15-18), but at this point we want to go into the playoffs. We feel like if we're healthy we have a chance in anybody's building. We've shown we can beat anybody in the Eastern Conference in their building, so for us the most important thing is our health."
As for whether he wants to stay sharp or get rest, Pierce said, "I think it's a fine line, because you want to stay in a certain rhythm, but at the same time you want to be rested. Everybody knows how grueling and how physical and how tough mentally and physically the playoffs are. So I think it's good to be sharp, but at the same time we want to be as healthy as we can be going into the playoffs."