Celtics finding consistency with depth

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Celtics finding consistency with depth

The Celtics three leading scorers in last night's win over Phoenix were all reserves. While only one starter (Kevin Garnett) had a plusminus in the positive range, five bench players joined him in the club. Jared Sullinger led everyone at 24, Jason Terry was 19, Jeff Green was 16 and Courtney Lee was 12.

Basically, last night was a glimpse into the reserve unit that everyone envisioned coming into this season. Only without Darko. Sweet, sweet Darko.

Anyway, after the game, Kevin Garnett was asked about the bench's performance, and stopped short of dropping too much praise. At the very least, he wasn't ready to deem them a finished product.

I dont know, you know," he said. "But theyre definitely starting to make some noise."

But it's what he said next that I found most telling: "I think Docs starting to understand the rotation hes going with, and I think the rotation we are going with," KG said. "Hes confident in it, and everybody kind of knows their niche right now.

And there it is. For the last month or so we've begged for this team to find some consistency. For Doc to finally figure out his rotations and put this roster in the best position to succeed. Until recently, it wasn't easy. In large part, due to Avery Bradley's injury, but also because the new additions like Terry, Green and Lee were so consistently out of sorts. But now, with Bradley back, and Brandon Bass in the starting line-up, everything is falling into place. Is it that Doc finally figured it out? Or that the team just finally woke up?

It's probably a combination. But either way, the result is fantastic for the Celtics. In the NBA, you need every players to be confidentcomfortable with his own identity before you can achieve anything on the team level. And if nothing else, this roster starters and reserves have started to figure out who they are as individuals, and as a result, they're coming together as one. In the words of KG: "They're definitely starting to make some noise."

Just in time for Danny to pull off a trade? Yeah, maybe. But for now, at least the weeks andor months until he pulls the trigger will be a lot more productive.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

WATCH: Celtics vs. Pistons

WATCH: Celtics vs. Pistons

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Raptors in Toronto. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Pistons preview: C's need to defend their top-four spot in East

Celtics-Pistons preview: C's need to defend their top-four spot in East

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- On Friday night, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan absolutely torched the Boston Celtics. The game before that, it was Chicago’s Jimmy Butler giving the Celtics major fits with a barrage of baskets. 

Both were All-Star starters this year, the kind of lofty status that helps explain how the Celtics were so defensively-challenged in their efforts in limiting them.

Detroit doesn’t have a bona fide high-scoring perimeter star like those other teams, but don’t think for a minute that tonight’s game will be a breeze for the Celtics. Boston (37-21) comes in having lost two in a row to Chicago and Toronto, respectively. The Raptors loss was especially painful because it assured the Raptors would get the higher seed in the playoffs if these two teams finished with an identical record. 

Boston hopes to secure an edge over the Pistons tonight with a victory that will give them the season series, three games to one. While it may seem a bit early to get too caught up in tie-breakers and their importance, the last thing Boston wants is to finish the regular season tied with one or more teams, and wind up with the lower seed because they lost the head-to-head series. 

“You hear people say every game counts; it’s true,” Boston’s Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “We need to win as many games as we can because you never know which game could be the difference between having home court or not.”

If Boston continues to find ways to win and finish with a tie-free, top-four finish in the East, they will begin the playoffs at the TD Garden for the first time under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens.

Meanwhile the Pistons are currently eighth in the East and, like the Celtics, they too opted to stand pat at the trade deadline. And like Boston, they are looking for growth from within as they try to make their way up the Eastern Conference standings. 

“We’re not real happy with how we’ve played up to this point overall,” said Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons’ president of basketball operations and head coach. “But we still have a young group. As much as you would like the progress to be steadily uphill, it’s not always. That doesn’t mean you lose faith in your guys. At the end of the day, we ended up standing pat, which is pretty much what we expected to do.”

One of Boston’s biggest concerns coming into the game will be rebounding. It was among the many factors contributing to Boston’s loss on Friday. But as much as execution at both ends of the floor will be a factor, effort will be just as vital if not more, to the success of the Celtics in the playoffs. There were plenty of reasons as to why Boston lost on Friday night, with effort being near the top of the list. 

“They played harder than us,” said Celtics forward Jae Crowder. 

And that was surprising when you consider what was at stake – a chance to push their lead over Toronto to five games with a couple dozen to go.

Rookie forward Jaylen Brown has heard all the reasons and explanations as to why the Celtics have hit a mini-hiccup following back-to-back losses. And he has also heard how Boston blew a golden opportunity to beat Toronto with Raptors all-star Kyle Lowry still out. 

“We didn’t have one of our key guys, either,” said Brown, referring to Avery Bradley still being out with a foot injury. So it’s basketball at the end of the day. It doesn’t’ matter who is on the floor. You have to do your job; we just have to do our job.”