Let the other Eastern Conference playoff contenders tear each other apart fighting for playoff seeding. The Boston Celtics are getting what they need most: rest.
"We're playing really well right now, but we need a break," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Friday night after giving his team a rare, in-season weekend off after a 104-92 victory and season sweep of the Atlanta Hawks. "This is absolutely needed."
Pierce scored 21 points and Rondo had 20 for Boston, which has four days off before its next game and has just one, two-game road trip before the end of the season. The Celtics also have just one set of back-to-back games, on the last two days of the regular season.
Kendrick Perkins had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Glen "Big Baby" Davis had 19 points in place of Garnett, who missed his fourth consecutive game and his 17th of 21. Tony Allen played his first game since Feb. 8, but Brian Scalabrine and Leon Powe stayed on the bench with injuries.
"Now we have a few days, next week we have a few days," Perkins said. "But me, Rondo and Baby, we're in our early 20s -- we don't need that much rest."
Flip Murray scored 21 points, Mike Bibby had 20 and Josh Smith had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta, which has lost seven consecutive regular-season games to the Celtics and nine in a row overall in Boston, including last year's seven-game, first-round playoff series. The Hawks dropped four against Boston this season.
Atlanta dropped to three games ahead of fifth-place Philadelphia in the conference standings, and the Hawks need home court more than most: They've lost five away games in a row to fall to 14-24 on the road and 29-9 at home.
"We don't play the same way we do at home," Smith said.
"We get away from the things we do at home and don't do it on the road."