Can the Boston Celtics Afford to Rest Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce?

Nikhil BaradwajSenior Analyst IAugust 30, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 05:  (L-R) Paul Pierce #34 and Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics react late in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 5, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Heading into the 2012-13 NBA season, the Boston Celtics look to be one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference at least and a legitimate contender to even unseat the Miami Heat as the newest NBA champion.

For any of this to happen, the Cs need to stay healthy. If even one major player in the rotation goes down, Boston will struggle to get past a more talented Miami Heat team.

Even though this is definitely radical, it might be smart for Boston to play Pierce and Garnett less than 30 minutes a game per season for most of the year, while even taking down their playing time to under 25 minutes during tougher stretches.

The negative effects of this type of move are obvious. Outside of All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, Garnett and Pierce are the next two important players on this roster.

Without The Truth's scoring ability and KG's defensive presence, Boston is a fringe playoff team in the Eastern Conference. 

Even with Derrick Rose hurt for most of the season, the Chicago Bulls will definitely challenge for the No. 2 seed, especially if the Celtics rest Garnett and Pierce.

A No. 3 seed would not be the end of the world, because it would likely allow for the Celtics to avoid the Heat until the conference finals.

However, the margin for error is so small, because a No. 4 seed could mean an early matchup with Miami, and a potential playoff exit in the conference semifinals.

There are some positives to resting Garnett and Pierce, though. This past postseason, Pierce was not himself, due in part to a more than minor knee injury.

If Pierce is healthy for a potential matchup with the Heat, he would hopefully be able to make a bigger impact defensively, while also playing a seven-game series with full energy.

Same goes for Garnett. If he can stay healthy and fresh for the Heat, Boston has a legitimate shot to dethrone the Heat, especially if Dwyane Wade continues to show his age.

KG is a matchup nightmare for a smaller Heat team, on both the offensive and defensive ends.

After looking at everything, it is hard to say what the Celtics should do with Pierce and Garnett. If they don't rest the two enough, Boston runs the risk that Pierce and Garnett run out of gas, like they did during last season's playoffs.

However, if they rest their veterans too much, Boston might slip to the No. 4 seed and be forced to face Miami a round too early. 

At the end of the day, Boston needs to find a perfect medium for Garnett and Pierce's playing time if they want to remain a legitimate championship contender.