Celtics bench finds strength in sum of parts

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Celtics bench finds strength in sum of parts

WALTHAM In Boston's last two games, we have seen both the promise -- and problems -- that come about when you have a bench like the Boston Celtics.

As you go through the roster, you won't find a single player that you can turn to and know you'll get major production every night. But collectively, they do more than enough good things to validate their use.

We saw just how big a difference they can make, with their play in Sunday's win over Washington being one of the keys to Boston's 12-point win.

Because they don't have that one guy off the bench who delivers steady, consistent production, there will be nights when the group as a whole doesn't play well and no one player has the type of game to change that.

Their play had little to do with Boston's seven-point win at Charlotte the following night.

"That's what's so great about back-to-backs when your bench plays well," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "If they just play well in one of the two (games), you're good."

Despite their record which is currently the seventh-best in the East, the Celtics' goals of going deep into the playoffs have not changed.

This isn't like four or five years ago when the C's starting five was so much better than the opposing team that there was no great need for a deep and talented bench.

"Bench is key," said Brandon Bass, who began the season coming off the bench but is now a full-time starter. "If you want to be successful in this league, you need to have a strong bench that'll come through. You need them."

And like the C's as a whole, the bench understands a big part of their success will be on their ability to play more consistently.

"Just getting the chemistry out there . . . we're just trying to keep building our chemistry," said Celtics reserve Marquis Daniels.

Developing that chemistry is challenged somewhat when you have a slew of injuries and illnesses to starters. That forces players who normally come off the bench into roles with the first unit.

"We're all professionals," Daniels said. "They know when they come in, it doesn't really change much. If you're in with the starters, you're doing more of a role, and with the second group you're doing more of your role. It's not much of a difference. They're all professionals. They do a good job."

First impressions from Red Sox' 8-3 win over Rockies

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First impressions from Red Sox' 8-3 win over Rockies

First impressions from the Red Sox' 8-3 win over the Colorado Rockies:

 

The Red Sox continue to use Fenway as their own little offensive playground.

Since April 20, the Red Sox are averaging exactly eight runs per game at home. That's just over a month of the covering 18 games.

They've also collected 10 or more hits in 16 of those 18 games, utilizing every bit of the field.

For the last two seasons, Fenway stopped being a tough place to play for opponents. But at home this year, the Sox have outscored opponents by 67 runs.

 

All of a sudden, the Red Sox are a triples team and Fenway is a triples haven.

A triple by Christian Vazquez - of all people -- gave the Red Sox a league-high 13 triples this season.

Fenway has a reputation for being a doubles park, but the ballpark has been home to 12 triples in 26 games - five by visiting teams and seven by the Red Sox. That translates into almost one every two games.

 

David Price was solid, but not spectacular.

The positives: Price got through the seventh inning for the fifth time this season. He walked just one and fanned six in seven innings.

He was hit hard a few times, with a homer into the visitor's bullpen allowed to Charlie Blackmon and a triple to the triangle for Carlos Gonzalez.

Consider it another step forward for Price, but it fell far short of dominant.

 

Koji Uehara's deception is heightened against teams that don't see him much.

Uehara allowed a leadoff single to D.J. LeMahieu, but then fanned three in a row, finishing each hitter off with his trademark split-finger fastball.

That pitch can be tough to recognize for hitters who see it a few times per season. For those in the National League who are largely unfamiliar with Uehara's splitter, it's apparently some sort of Kryptonite.