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.

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

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Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

NEW YORK - Russell Westbrook was voted NBA MVP on Monday night after setting a record with 42 triple-doubles last season.

Westbrook's victory ended the first NBA Awards show, which included two wins apiece for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

Westbrook joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for the season, and he broke Robertson's single-season record set when he had 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62.

The point guard beat out Houston's James Harden and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard to succeed Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards.

Earlier, Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon became the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common draft era.

Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection out of Virginia. The common draft era began in 1966.

"I think it's an example for guys that are told they are too short, they are not athletic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shooting guards," Brogdon said. "I just think it's an important message for people to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player award.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni won his second Coach of the Year award, and the Rockets' Eric Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year after setting a record for most 3-pointers off the bench in his first season as a reserve.

The NBA formerly gave out its individual awards at various points throughout the postseason before switching to the awards show this season and presenting them all at once in front of the league's top players and stars from the entertainment world.

Two of the best moments came during segments that didn't include the NBA's six individual awards.

Bill Russell was presented the first Lifetime Achievement award, welcomed on stage by fellow Hall of Fame centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The 11-time champion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys."

Former Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed after his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a colorful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports reporter who died of cancer this past season.

Mike Giardi: People in Paul George's camp think Celtics are a great fit

Mike Giardi: People in Paul George's camp think Celtics are a great fit

Mike Giardi reports that there are some people in Paul George's camp that think the Boston Celtics would be a great fit, both short and long-term.

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