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."