Celtics need more from their bench vs. Heat

Celtics need more from their bench vs. Heat
June 1, 2012, 5:23 pm
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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.