BOSTON When the Boston Celtics dropped their fifth straight game at Oklahoma City just before the all-star break, Doc Rivers informed his coaches then that changes were coming.
That game, the C's played few bodies because, well, they only had a few bodies healthy enough to play.
These days, the Celtics are playing just shorter rotation - and it's likely to stay that way for the rest of the season.
"We're basically at nine," Rivers said. "And that's what we're going to do."
In addition to the Big Four of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass will remain with the starting unit. Chris Wilcox will be the first big off the bench, while the rest of the rotation will consist of guardforward Mickael Pietrus and combo guards Avery Bradley and Keyon Dooling.
"We're preparing for something bigger than the regular season," Dooling told CSNNE.com. "Guys definitely have to start figuring out when they're coming in and kind of their roles, so that they can execute it every night. I think we're starting to get to that point."
Rivers said there will be games when the Celtics will go 10-deep again.
"But that tenth guy now is going to be a short-minute guy, whoever it is," Rivers said.
0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions on the Celtics getting their first win of the season and a comparison between Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving in the 4th quarter.
7:17 - Phil Perry joins BST to break down the tale of the tape between the Falcons and the Patriots as he breaks down the quarterbacks, offense, defense, coaching, and intangibles between the two teams.
11:57 - Our crew on BST discuss number 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and number 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum going up against each other and debate who seems like the better pick so far.
16:35 - In this segment of Irrelevant Questions, Tom Curran interviews Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett as he asks him a bunch of random questions.
HOUSTON - Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.
Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.
After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.
Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.