Celtics bench steps up

Celtics bench steps up
June 2, 2012, 6:19 am
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BOSTON As you scan the Boston Celtics bench, you see Marquis Daniels. Keyon Dooling. Greg Stiemsma. Mickael Pietrus.

All have proven at some point that they can contribute in a meaningful way to the C's success.

But those opportunities have been few and far between.

Friday night was a chance for the C's bench to make a difference.

Did they ever.

For as dominate as Kevin Garnett was around the basket, or how Rajon Rondo continued to do figure 8s around the Heat's defense, it was the Celtics' second unit that surged them to a much-needed 101-91 Game Three win.

"Every guy that came off our bench contributed for our basketball team," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "And we needed it."

The biggest - and probably most unexpected - lift of the night for Boston came from Marquis Daniels, who had nine of the second unit's 19 points on Friday.

Daniels played 17 minutes on Friday.

After having played 22 minutes in a blowout win over Atlanta on May 6, Daniels had only played a total of 10 minutes prior to Friday.

"I just have to stay ready, regardless," Daniels said. "You never know when you're number is going to be called."

Or if a player will be able to answer when the call is made.

While much of the strong bench play can be attributed to Daniels' contributions on both ends of the floor, the Celtics didn't begin to pull away until Keyon Dooling drained a 3-pointer late in the first quarter that cut the Heat lead in half.

That would set into motion an 8-0 Celtics run that gave them a lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

"Being home gives you a sense of comfort," Dooling said. "That definitely gave us some extra energy."

Indeed, the Celtics second unit looked and played with a little more pep in their step, coming up with plays at both ends of the floor which is rare for this group.

"Listen, they are not going to put up great numbers offensively, but they know exactly who they are," Rivers said. "They accept that, and they are comfortable with that."

They are a group whose greatest contributions most nights are going to come defensively.

Even with the C's holding their own offensively, much of that success came about because of what they were able to do at the other end of the floor.

"What the second unit did was they came in with a defensive energy that changed the game," Rivers said. "And they scored off the defense. They got stops, they ran the floor I thought it was more from that. And that's who they are."

And while the Celtics would love to bottle the play of the bench, hoping it would spill over into Game Four, these veterans understand that's not likely to happen.

"It's the Eastern Conference finals. There won't be any carry over from this game to the next game," Dooling said. "It's a new game, it's a new day, it will be a new challenge. We have to be up for it."