As expected, Richard Hamilton dropped out of the rotation, drawing a did not play-coach's decision — the first of his career in the playoffs after playing in 127 straight.

"He missed a good chunk of the season down the stretch, and then we tried to get him some games at the end just so he can get his rhythm back," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "A big part of his game is his timing and rhythm of catch-and-shoot. We just have to be patient."

Hamilton played just 7 minutes, 14 seconds in Game 1. Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson split the backup shooting guard minutes.

"I feel good," said Belinelli, who scored eight points. "I'm just trying to be aggressive and make plays for my teammates."

Center of attention: Taj Gibson has been guarding Brook Lopez since the former played at USC and the latter at Stanford in their Pac-10 battles. Despite ceding three inches and struggling with the assignment in Game 1, Gibson remains confident whenever the matchup arises.

"It's just a matter of me moving my feet," Gibson said.

That's easier to do now that Gibson's left knee is improving. But it's harder to do when battling foul trouble.

"I feel a lot stronger pushing off," Gibson said. "With the lighter (knee) brace, I could feel my legs coming back to me. The foul trouble is just frustrating because I thought in the playoffs it would be more physical. There were ticky-tack fouls here and there."

Rose-colored glasses: Thibodeau has talked about how prepared he was for Derrick Rose's lengthy absence because of similar experiences with Patrick Ewing when he served as an assistant with the Knicks, Yao Ming when with the Rockets and Kevin Garnett while with the Celtics.