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."

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.