Celtics bench picking up the defensive mindset

Celtics bench picking up the defensive mindset
April 9, 2012, 2:52 pm
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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."

Wednesday 7:00 pm Celtics vs Pistons
Thursday 5:00 pm
(Replay 8pm)
Celtics vs Magic