Celtics bench picking up the defensive mindset


Celtics bench picking up the defensive mindset

MIAMI The idea of strong bench play usually comes down to how much they score.

But the Boston Celtics are a team that prides itself on playing great defense -- backups included. And when you look at all that has contributed to the Celtics' most recent run of wins, the second unit's ability to defend has been huge.

In fact, Boston's bench ranks among the NBA's best at limiting the scoring of their fellow backup brethren.

"It all starts with our defensive leader, Kevin Garnett," Celtics guard Keyon Dooling told CSNNE.com. "He really does set the tone, as do all our starters, really. And those of us on the bench, we try to pick up where they left off defensively, or take it to another level if we can."

According to the website hoopsstats.com, second units are scoring a league-low 26.1 points per game against Boston.

And while the C's usually have a starter or two on the floor most of the game, there's no question that this second unit's strength lies in their ability to defend.

In Boston's last two wins, the second quarter -- this is when the C's rely on their bench more than any other time in the game -- has been surprisingly strong for them.

Against Indiana on Saturday, Boston held the Pacers to just 14 second-quarter points which was a huge factor in the Celtics' 86-72 win.

And on Sunday against Philadelphia, Boston once again gave up just 14 points in the second quarter.

"Defensively when you play like that, you're going to win a lot of games," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "(Against Indiana) I thought we played defense like that, but we just couldn't make a shot. And like I told you before the game, we had open shots; just none of them went in. (Against Philadelphia) we played the exact same defense but the ball went in, and that was a good effort."

Like a second unit full of scorers, Boston is getting multiple backups stepping up their game and making a difference with their play defensively.

Rookie center Greg Stiemsma continues to give Boston quality minutes off the bench. He's averaging a team-high 1.5 blocks per game this season, but has swatted eight in Boston's last two games.

And Sasha Pavlovic had one of the more memorable plays on Sunday, as he soared into the lane to block an attempted dunk by Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young. Even Ray Allen who is primarily looked upon to provide scoring, has tallied four steals in the C's last two games.

"We have a lot of guys that can score, but we're a defensive team," C's guard Avery Bradley told CSNNE.com. "That's who we are."

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup


Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

The Bruins will add another veteran defenseman to their training camp group fresh off the World Cup of Hockey as German D-man Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Boston on a PTO (professional tryout agreement). CSN has confirmed that Ehrhoff has indeed agreed to a PTO with the Bruins, and he'll report to the team sometime this weekend.

The 34-year-old Ehrhoff had three assists in six World Cup games for Team Europe, and had two goals and 10 points in 48 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season while clearly starting to slow down a bit. He’s clearly no longer the player that averaged 14 goals and 47 points for the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2011, and is another left-shot defenseman to add to a team that already has Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

But it behooved the Bruins to bring in at least one “name” veteran D-man on a tryout basis during this training camp with so many needs for upgrades on the back end, and with a host of young players that might not be ready for prime time. This might also be a warning sign for young veteran Joe Morrow, a left shot D-man that has struggled a bit in training camp after coming off an erratic first full season at the NHL level.

Clearly the Bruins need more than Ehrhoff, however, even if he’s somehow re-energized with the Bruins after playing pretty well in the World Cup. The Kings were down enough on his game to put him through waivers last season, but he was a top-4 defenseman for the previous eight seasons for San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh prior to getting bounced around between the Kings and Blackhawks last season.

The added bonus with taking a look at Ehrhoff is that there’s no risk associated with a PTO, and the Bruins can simply walk away with no cost if the B’s coaching staff decides he’s not a good fit for the group in Boston. On the other hand, bringing in a Kris Russell-type would cost a great deal in terms of money and term in a free agent contract, and it might not benefit the Black and Gold club in the end result.