The Mark Acres Chronicles
The cries about use, or non-use, of the bench are being heard again, so Larry Bird was asked how long heavy reliance on the starters will continue. "It's gonna last until I retire," he declared. "I know that. It's happened the last nine years, and it's not a big problem. There's a lot of rest and a lot of times in between games."
Most teams traditionally trim the playing time of their irregulars when the playoffs arrive, although it can be argued that few prune the bush as much as Boston. In the last four playoff games, the bench minutes have gone from 55 to 37 to 30 to 25.
Robert Parish played a season-high 45 minutes. Bird went 47. The other numbers: Kevin McHale 41, Danny Ainge 43 and Dennis Johnson 39. Fred Roberts and Dirk Minniefield have fallen off the earth. The former has logged two straight DNPs, while the latter got one of those Friday (his first as a Celtic) and two minutes Wednesday. Jim Paxson has played only 27 minutes in the last two games, while Mark Acres has played 22.
It's perfectly clear that K.C. Jones isn't fooling around with "maybes." He's sticking with the known commodities until they drop. For 10 playoff games, Paxson averaged 4.9 points, Acres 2.4 and Minniefield 1.8. In the first three games between the Celtics and the Hawks, Atlanta's bench outscored Boston's, 114-28.