MIAMI — Conventional wisdom tells us that the Miami Heat are a three-man troupe with a bunch of side-show bystanders who spend more time enjoying the ride than being active participants in the Heat's success.
But as the Heat tore through the NBA to the tune of 27 straight wins this season, Miami's bench showed it could do more than just wave towels for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It can score in bunches as was the case in Friday's 109-101 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Not only did the Heat's reserves outscore the C's second unit 52-14, but it was their play in the second quarter that turned the game around in the Heat's favor.
Boston led most of the first quarter and took a 27-17 lead into the second quarter. In came the Heat's second unit, which led the way to a blistering 16-for-19 shooting performance in the second including five 3-pointers - two of which were made by former Celtic Ray Allen.
"We have guys that can play on this bench," Allen said. "It's just sacrifice. You play when your number is called and guys have gone in and played well."
Said C's coach Doc Rivers: "Their subs beat our subs, if you want to simplify it."
Miami has had James, Wade and Bosh miss games this season. But in their absences, there has seemingly been a player or two that stepped up to fill that void.
But now that all three are back, the Heat bench is still managing to find ways to impact the game.
"We really didn't see [how good they are] until they were able to play together late in the season," said Wade, who returned to action on Friday after missing the previous six games with right knee soreness. "It is a very good bench, better than we thought it was coming into the beginning of the year. They have been able to play more and learn from their mistakes."
Said James: "The fact that they have been out on the floor gives them more confidence."
And that confidence may be just what this franchise needs to catapult it to a second straight NBA title.
"When our bench is scoring, that is steady pressure that we are putting on the defense," Bosh said. "Hopefully we can continue that when the playoffs get here."