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.

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

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Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
 
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
 
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
 
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
 
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told CSNNE.com on Wednesday.
 
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
 
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
 
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
 
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
 
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
 
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
 
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told CSNNE.com that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
 
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
 
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
 
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
 
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”