Celtics bench steps up

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Celtics bench steps up

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."

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

BOSTON – Wednesday’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks was the fifth time in the last six games that Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley was out because of a right Achilles injury.

Well, it appears the 6-foot-2 guard may miss a few more with this injury.

“I can see him missing a little more time,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said following Wednesday’s loss. “I just think maybe he came back a little bit too early, whatever the case may be.”

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Bradley was expected to play against the Knicks, but was a last-minute scratch.

Celtics big man Al Horford said he didn’t find out Bradley was out until the team was on the floor doing pre-game warmups and he didn’t see him.

“He was really sore,” Stevens said of Bradley. “Went through our walk-through and then came on to the court and did some stuff and was more sore today than he has been. I think he did treatment the whole game.”

This latest setback for Bradley is part of a growing narrative that has dogged him throughout his career which has included him missing games to injury in each of his six-plus NBA seasons.

Bradley came into this season once again hoping to be as injury-free as possible, only to see that dream dashed with this right Achilles strain he's suffering with currently.

Still, there’s no downplaying the significance and value the Celtics have in the 26-year-old. This season, he is second on the Celtics in scoring at 17.7 points per game and leads them in rebounds with 6.9 per game with both being career highs. In addition, he averages just under 35 minutes per game which is also tops on the team.

Marcus Smart has been Stevens’ choice to replace Bradley in the starting lineup when Bradley has been unavailable, and that’s not likely to change between now and Saturday’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.