Mike Woodson’s mysterious handling of rookie Chris Copeland took on another level yesterday.

With J.R. Smith out because of his one-game suspension, it was the perfect opportunity to let Copeland and his dreadlocks roam free on the parquet. Instead, Copeland, a Knicks fan favorite but occasionally a resident of Woodson’s doghouse, went from a starter in Game 1 to a DNP in yesterday’s 97-90 Game 4 overtime loss to the Celtics.

Woodson chose wily but rusty veteran Quentin Richardson for a 2:46 stretch of the first half, and the move backfired. Richardson’s stint was so ineffective — the club was a minus-6 — that he didn’t see time in the second half. However, Woodson still didn’t go with Copeland despite the Knicks’ sickly shooting (34.4 percent).

If Copeland proved anything in his regular season is he can score at will — with an inside and outside game.

Copeland, April’s Rookie of the Month, started Game 1 because of Pablo Prigioni’s ankle sprain and struggled. Copeland played garbage time in Games 2 and 3.

“I don’t want to say the wrong thing — sometimes you play, some you don’t,’’ Copeland told The Post. “You never know.’’

Woodson, who has ridden Copeland hard all season in practice, didn’t debrief Copeland before the game. Richardson, in his second Knicks stint, is completely out of rhythm after sitting out all regular season until the Knicks’ desperation signing in the final days of the regular season.

Richardson was 0-for-2 with his lowest moment coming on a driving layup when he failed to get it up to the rim. Woodson hooked him after that. Since yesterday was a gravy game, Woodson might have just wanted to see if Richardson can help in the future.

Copeland, the former Belgian leaguer who will be sought as a free agent, had his shoulder pop out in the regular-season finale vs. Atlanta. But he’s fine now.

“It’s not 100 percent but I was ready to go,’’ he said.

* Woodson gave a very firm “I’m not going to comment, not at all’’ when asked what he thought of Smith’s suspension.