Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/26/14
Of course there would be overtime. The Celtics were in the midst of playing three games in four nights, two of them back-to-back against the same division opponent. The more they play against a young Philadelphia squad recently, the more they seem to feed the Sixers’ burgeoning confidence. So, naturally, the Celtics and Sixers played an extra five minutes on Friday, except the Sixers did not merely come out of the game with confidence. They also came out with a win. Even with Andrew Bynum sidelined with a laundry list of knee issues, the Sixers are capable of giving the Celtics fits, as they proved last year in the regular season and playoffs. No matter the opponents, though, the Celtics were bound to have trouble with the stretch that began Wednesday against the Timberwolves and concludes Saturday against the Sixers at the TD Garden. Back-to-backs are demanding enough. Three games in four days are brutal, and the Celtics are getting familiar with the pain and fatigue that comes with them. Starting Nov. 28 against the Nets, the Celtics began a 24-day span in which they play on consecutive nights four times and play three games in four nights four times. Fortunately for their joints, they have several opportunities to recuperate, such as three-day breaks this week and next. But when a player is logging his 90th minute of playing time in 72 hours, his body is not always aware an extended rest is coming. This is why Spurs coach Gregg Popovich‘s decision to send four players home instead of making them play a fourth game in five days was not only defensible, it was laudable. Popovich recognized that resting key players like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker for one game would help the Spurs win more games in the long run by keeping those players rested and healthy. The results have vindicated him. The Spurs had won seven of their last eight games entering Friday — with the lone loss being the game in Miami when San Antonio’s stars rested. Expecting players to perform well when they are worn out physically and mentally is simply not realistic, although they try. “It’s tough,” Celtics forward Jeff Green said in the middle of one of these three-game, four-night periods. “What [the Spurs] had is four games in five nights. You’re playing the best competition and it’s tough on your body. The rest is needed, and it’s tough to get rest when you’re flying from city to city, then getting into each city at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. You’ve got to adjust. You’ve got to scale back from time to time and read your body.” Here is where some tough guy can grumble about multimillionaire athletes whining about having to play a sport too often and all his equally tough friends can yell, “Yeah!” before crushing beer cans on their foreheads. Nobody was whining, least of all Green when he was asked about the demands of a schedule that at times is inexplicably condensed. In January, for instance, the Celtics play on consecutive nights twice, but in February, the shortest month, they do so four times — making the four-day All-Star break not just helpful, but necessary. After the break they will play five road games out west in seven nights, and from March to early April they play three games in four nights five times. The NBA implicitly admits that this sort of schedule is not conducive to peak athletic performance by rarely scheduling back-to-back games in the playoffs, when the games really matter. If anybody honestly believes so many games in a short period of time should not affect play, they should ask themselves why the conference finals and finals can take more than a month to complete. Add in the wrinkle of playing the same team on two straight nights and the situation gets more intriguing. Paul Pierce played nearly 45 minutes in Friday’s overtime loss to the Sixers, Jason Terry played close to 44 minutes and Rajon Rondo played a bit more than 42 minutes before he airballed the potential game-winning shot at the buzzer. Those guys had almost exactly 21 hours, 30 minutes to shower, dress, talk to reporters, travel back to Boston, get some sleep, be in Waltham for a Saturday morning shootaround and try to recharge in time for the game Saturday night. The only saving grace, in the eyes of Celtics coach Doc Rivers, was that it was all coming against a familiar foe that has now beaten his team twice this season. “We’ve struggled playing Philly, so I love this stuff because the way I look at it, in my own demented way, that’s good,” Rivers said before his team left for Philadelphia. “I think those are all good things. I think it’s a good challenge for us, so it’ll be a lot of fun.” In that case, congratulations, coach. You have a lot of masochistic fun ahead of you. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Paul Pierce: Computers to blame for lack of NBA trash talk

Darrelle Revis: I don’t feel sorry for Jets fans

A recent history of Super Bowl injury hullabaloo

DeflateGate football could fetch $50K at auction

Father and son allegedly attack coach over playing time

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

The AFC North will regress in 2015

Doug Baldwin bringing 'sunblock' to Revis Island

Will the first-round running back return in 2015?

Robert Kraft: Richard Sherman is a 'marketing whiz'

Rob Gronkowski's party bus headed to Super Bowl

Matt Barnes not happy with NBA for $25,000 fine

Keys to victory for the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX

Grandpa: Marshawn would retire rather than deal with media

Ten best teams that didn't make the Super Bowl

Ranking the NBA’s Coach of the Year candidates

WATCH: Zach Parise picks up his tooth off the ice

Crosby's name misspelled as 'Sindey' on Penguins program

Joe Biden blows off Olivia Munn to talk to Aaron Rodgers

James Shields need to adjust his contract expectations

Kurt Warner wonders about Patriots cheating in Super Bowl

4-star QB recruit decommits from Michigan

Top storylines for Super Bowl XLIX

WATCH: Pacquiao, Mayweather meet at halftime of Heat game

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Seahawks' keys to Super Bowl victory

DeflateGate ball could fetch $50K

Doug Baldwin ready for Revis Island

Top storylines for Super Bowl XLIX

Barnes unhappy with NBA over fine

Does MLB need more offense in the modern game?

Re-ranking the Top 25: exposing the biggest flaws

Putting the Cavs’ pieces together

Super Bowl XLIX: Key people to know

Ranking all 48 Super Bowls

Bill Simmons fires a shot at Ray Lewis

NFL pushing CFP to change schedule

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.