Celtics need more from their bench vs. Heat

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Celtics need more from their bench vs. Heat

WALTHAM No one expects the Boston Celtics' bench to take over and dominate a game.

But it certainly would be a nice change of pace.

Because at this point Boston's backups have contributed little to the Celtics cause, which is among the many reasons the team is facing a 2-0 series deficit to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, with a must-win Game 3 tonight at the TD Garden.

The lack of contributions by the Celtics' bench is in line with what they were able to do -- or rather, not do -- for most of the regular season.

During the regular season, Boston's bench scored 23.2 points which was 29th (out of 30 teams) this season. However, they did so in a league-low 15.6 minutes per game.

As you go across the stat sheet, the C's were at or near the bottom in every statistical category when it came to their bench production.

Boston's bench more often than not, made its impact defensively. During the regular season they gave up the second-fewest bench points (26.5) per game -- but, again, they did it in a league-low number of minutes per game.

And as with most teams, the playing rotation became shorter in the playoffs, thus the impact of the bench to a large degree was expected to be less.

Even with limited chances to play, Boston needs its bench to bring more to the floor than what they have so far.

"Everybody on this team has a certain role, and us bench guys, we have to play our roles and play them better," said guard Keyon Dooling. "It's important for all of us; not just the starters, not just the bench guys; but all of us have to play well in order for us to win."

Production and opportunity, particularly for bench players, go hand in hand. If they don't produce, they don't get to play as much and vice versa.

In the playoffs, the Celtics are averaging a league-low 15.9 points per game. That wouldn't be as big of a deal if the second unit's defense could limit the scoring of opposing team's backups.

C's opponents in the playoffs are averaging 25 points per game off the bench, which creates the kind of point differential that has created a greater need for the starters to build sizable leads before turning to the reserves.

Boston has managed to try and work around that by having at least one starter -- usually Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce or Rajon Rondo -- on the floor most of the time with the backups.

That has worked well at times, but it doesn't truly address what has been shaping up to be one of the Celtics' biggest weaknesses -- an ineffective bench.

Avery Bradley (Achilles) will not play vs. Knicks

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Avery Bradley (Achilles) will not play vs. Knicks

BOSTON – Both New York and Boston will take to the floor tonight minus a starter courtesy of a sore Achilles injury.

For Celtics guard Avery Bradley, tonight will be the fifth time in the last six games that his right Achilles injury will keep him sidelined.

Meanwhile, New York’s Kristaps Porzingis will miss his fourth straight game with a sore left Achilles injury.

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis averages 19.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

Porzingis’ absence tonight was established well before tip-off.

“I’d say I’m 90 percent ready; still not there yet,” Porzingis told reporters prior to the game. “But I’m getting closer … hopefully the next game or after the next game.”

As far as Bradley is concerned, he was a last-minute matter.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was asked about his roster earlier tonight, and indicated Tyler Zeller (sinus) and James Young (ankle) would be on the inactive list tonight with injuries.

Without Bradley, the Celtics are expected to start Marcus Smart who has filled in as the team’s starter previously when the 6-foot-2 Bradley was unavailable.

 Bradley is the Celtics' second-leading scorer with 17.7 points per game this season, along with a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game and 2.4 assists. 

Anthony: Despite trade whispers, 'I'm committed' to staying with Knicks

Anthony: Despite trade whispers, 'I'm committed' to staying with Knicks

BOSTON -- When most of Carmelo Anthony’s elite NBA brethren were looking for max-money deals with the flexibility to bounce to another team from one year to the next, the perennial All-Star signed a five-year, $124 million deal in 2014, which was one of the many ways he showed that he’s all-in on being a New York Knick. 
 
And as the Knicks continue to drop one game after another, 'Melo once again finds himself having to answer questions as to whether he wants to be in New York for the long haul. 
 
He acknowledged prior to tonight’s game against the Boston Celtics that he recently met with Phil Jackson, New York’s president of basketball operations. He declined to talk specifics about the meeting, but he was asked whether he felt a need to reiterate his commitment to a Knicks team that finds itself -- for now at least -- on the outside of the playoff picture. 
 
”I think it was just a . . . yeah, I mean, I'm committed,” he said after the team’s shootaround this morning prior to tonight's Celtics-Knicks game. “I don't have to prove that to anybody. I don't think I have to prove that to anybody. I don’t think I have to keep saying that. I don't think I have to keep talking about that. I know for a fact people know that; people see that. And right now my focus is on playing ball and staying with these guys. Because a lot of these guys have never dealt with all of this stuff before. Especially being in a market like New York and dealing with the articles and everybody has a different opinion on different situations. So a lot of these guys have never dealt with that. So for me it's just, it's all about being there. Moreso than ever right now during this time for them.”
  
Since he arrived via (forced) traded from Denver, 'Melo has seen his share of ups and downs in New York -- probably more downs in terms of the team’s success.
 
But even with that familiarity, Anthony acknowledged that this season’s problems do have a different feel than previous ones. 
 
“I've had this a couple times over the past couple seasons so I kinda know what this feeling is like,” Anthony said. “I think now it's a little bit different being the fact that the guys we have on this team, the talent level that's on this team, and for us to still kinda be losing these games, close games, non-close games . . . that's a different feeling.”
 
New York traded for Derrick Rose, a former league MVP, and signed Joakim Noah via free agency. 
 
With those former Bulls, coupled with Anthony and an emerging star in Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks were expected to provide a nucleus for success that would position them to be a playoff contender. The season is still young, but they've have been one of the bigger disappointments in the NBA this season. 
 
After a 16-13 start, their slide began with a Christmas Day loss to Boston that put them in a tailspin that they’re still trying to play their way out of. They come into tonight’s game having lost 11 of their last 13 games and sit six games below .500 at 18-24.
 
And as far as Anthony's future with the Knicks, if he leaves it will be his decision. 
 
But he's maintained -- throughout the peaks and valleys in his time with the Knicks -- that he has no desire to play for any other franchise, which is why the no-trade he has is so important. 
 
Simply put, he ain’t leaving New York unless he wants to. 
 
“I think as players you always want to protect yourself,” Anthony said. “I didn't think it would get to this point, but I think as a player if you can get that (no-trade clause), you have a right to protect yourself and take care of yourself when it comes to that. It's very hard to get . . . So, I have it and that's that.”