Celtics looking for production from new bench


Celtics looking for production from new bench

BOSTON The Boston Celtics have four all-star players -- five if you throw in Jermaine O'Neal. It stands to reason that any shot at bringing home a championship lies with that group.

But when you look at the C's 2008 title run, it's clear just how important role players were to that team. James Posey's name immediately comes to mind.

If you examine the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks' postseason success, you can't overlook the breakout season of former Northeastern standout J.J. Barea.

So as the C's began to gear up for the 2011-2012 season, their best shot at a deep playoff run likely has as much to do with their bench players as it does with their stars.

"We have guys that can do it for us," Celtics guard Ray Allen told CSNNE.com. "Anytime you do anything great, it requires a few of your players on your team to have their best years. That's what we rely on."

When you look at the Celtics roster, there are a number of candidates to be standouts off the bench -- guys like Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox and Keyon Dooling.

"We're excited about Keyon, we're excited about Brandon, we're excited about Chris . . . Those guys have proven that they're good role players coming off the bench, that can help us win," Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations told CSNNE.com.

And with injuries already taking their toll on the Celtics -- Rajon Rondo (right ankle) and Paul Pierce (right heel) have already missed practices -- the Celtics are more likely to use more of their bench than in past years.

"That's why I'm here, to help this team win anyway I can," Wilcox said. "Starting, coming off the bench. It doesn't matter. I've never been to the playoffs, so winning is all I'm about now."

And while the Celtics' roster as it stands now isn't star-studded when you look at the backups, there is a certain brand of toughness most of the C's second-unit players can bring to the floor.

That'll come in handy when the games come fast and furious this season.

"It is a lot of them (games), and they will be coming real quick," Bass acknowledged. "But the good thing is, we ain't the only ones that have to deal with it. Everybody in the NBA has to go through that."

With so many games so tightly wound together, it won't be that surprising if there are games when then Celtics find themselves being carried not by the Big 4, but a player or two from the second unit.

"You ride a hot player who you didn't expect to get hot in a certain moment," Allen said. "It's not a predetermined formula. As it happens, you just go with it."

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”