BOSTON -- In a shortened season when managing minutes and preserving energy is a priority on a veteran team, the ability of the Celtics bench to maintain the starters lead is critical.
Following Sundays loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Paul Pierce expressed frustrations about not playing more minutes in the fourth quarter.
On Tuesday night in Cleveland, the Celtics starters needed to stay in the game to close out a tight win.
It was different on Wednesday, though. The Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors 100-64 in a well-balanced attack in which none of the starters played more than 27 minutes.
Weve got to stay ready, said Sasha Pavlovic (6 points, 22 minutes). We talked about that before the game and before the season. Weve got to stay ready and bring even more energy when they come out. Thats what were trying to do and were getting there.
Preserving a lead has been emphasized to the reserves. Its a role which they take seriously.
A lot of emphasis, said Brandon Bass (12 points, 9 rebounds, 31 minutes). Its just something we have to improve on. As a whole, to be honest with you, first group and second group, weve got to be able to maintain the lead, finish games, and thats what weve been trying to do of late.
Every active player appeared in Wednesdays game and recorded at least one basket. Rookie JaJuan Johnson scored a career-high 11 points in just 10 minutes off 5-for-5 shooting.
It was great, he said. Thats what Doc (Rivers) tells everybody, when you come in youve got to be ready to bring energy to the team, raise the level of what the people had in before, and I think the second unit did a good job tonight. ... Were going to need everybody for the year and in the playoffs. Its important that the bench is able to maintain leads and it helps for the longevity of the starters this whole season.