Celtics-Wizards review: Bench lacking in win

908161.jpg

Celtics-Wizards review: Bench lacking in win

WASHINGTON - Boston's ballyhooed second unit once again came up short.

But unlike the first two games - both Celtics losses - their lack of offensive punch would not be the C's downfall as Boston held on for an 89-86 win over the Wizards.

Even though Boston's backups were outscored by a decisive 62-27, a number of the second unit players came up with big plays down the stretch.

Jason Terry, the leader of Boston's second unit, had just eight points on 2-for-8 shooting. But he had a critical steal down the stretch in addition to a pair of free throws for the game's final points.

Still, the second unit remains in a state of influx as Doc Rivers continues to search out combinations that will work.

"We've just got to find the right group of guys," Rivers said. "Not only just the starters, I'm actually not as concerned with the starters. I'm far more concerned with the second unit. We've got to find a consistent second lineup."

The play of Boston's backups was among the factors that played a role in Saturday's game against Washington. Here are some other keys identified prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Boston has looked too often for points from the perimeter. Saturday's game should see a heavy dose of Kevin Garnett in the paint, and the Celtics guards attacking the basket.

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett was a much more effective player around the basket, and the C's for the most part made getting him the ball a priority. He finished with 15 points on 7-for-15 shooting along with seven rebounds.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Paul Pierce vs. Trevor Ariza: The Captain got into early foul trouble, and never found his stride in the loss to Milwaukee. Look for Pierce to come out aggressive offensively which should set the tone for a big night.

WHAT WE SAW: Not. Even. Close. Pierce took over, and Ariza was simply taken out of anything that resembled effective play. The Captain tallied a game-high 27 points on 10-for-22 shooting while Ariza  was scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jared Sullinger looked a lot like the Sullinger folks saw in the preseason, in the loss to Milwaukee. With Washington having a more traditional frontcourt, Sully should pick up right where he left off against the Bucks.

WHAT WE SAW: C's coach Doc Rivers tossed Sullinger into the starting lineup, and the rookie responded with a decent night, scoring four points but more important, grabbing seven rebounds.

STAT TO TRACK:  Boston hasn't been a very good offensive rebounding team, but they have to do a better job of limiting the second and third chances that they give opponents. Milwaukee had 11 offensive rebounds on Friday. Although they only generated 13 second-chance points, that doesn't factor how those possessions takes away from Boston's chances to score. Keeping the offensive rebound total given up in the low single digits would do wonders for both the C's struggling offense and out-of-synch defense.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston gave up seven offensive rebounds to the Wizards, but it didn't make much of a dent on a night when the C's defense was in back-in-the-day-mode with a four straight defensive stops to end the game. Those second-chance opportunities only netted Washington five points. Meanwhile, the Celtics had six offensive rebounds but generated 11 points off of them.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game Preview: C's get first look at Ibaka in Toronto

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

- Live Extra FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Celtics: All of the most recent news and notes

- Talk about the game via social media on CSN's Pulse, presented by Ford

Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

TORONTO – The decision to stand pat at the trade deadline for the Boston Celtics was made in part because they felt that as their roster is constructed, they can hold their own with anybody.

We’re going to find out just how true that is tonight as they face a revamped Toronto Raptors team that added a couple of notable players via trade, chief among them being Serge Ibaka from Orlando.

“That was a really good trade for them,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “Bringing in a guy like Serge Ibaka; a defender, a four-man that can switch out on guards. A guy that can space the floor, shoot the 3.  So that was a good addition. I’m excited to see how that’s gonna work other than tomorrow.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was also impressed with the Ibaka trade.

“That’s an improvement; there’s no question about it,” Stevens said. “Now you can play a number of different ways. He’s a really good player; he’s very agile. He’s a very good shooter. You can play him or (Patrick) Patterson at the four (power forward) the entire game now. You can play them together as a small-ball four and five (center). It gives them a lot of options on offense and defense.”

While praise for Ibaka is nothing new, you have to remember there were reasons as to why the Magic decided to give up on him so quickly, something even more hard to understand considering the assets they gave up (Victor Olidipo and a 2016 first-round pick used to select Domantas Sabonis, among others) to acquire him.

The Magic decided that they would not be in the running to re-sign Ibaka when he hits the free agent market this summer; this coming after the Thunder traded him primarily because they did not plan on giving him the near-max contract he’ll be seeking. So rather than play out this season and lose him for nothing, the Magic decided to trade him while they still could get something (Terrence Ross) in return.

While in Orlando, Ibaka averaged a career-high 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game. For his career (all prior to this season spent in Oklahoma City), he’s averaging 11.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

But he never seemed to provide the kind of impactful, difference-making play that Orlando was seeking.

And while the Celtics speak highly of Ibaka, he hasn’t been much of a problem for the Celtics this season.

In two games against Boston, Ibaka has averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Jae Crowder believes the struggles Ibaka has endured against the Celtics, are not a clear reflection of what he’s capable of doing as a player.

“For sure it makes them better,” said Crowder in describing the Raptors with Ibaka. “He’s a guy that can stretch the floor and rebound at a high rate. We know what he brings to the table.”

And those struggles we saw of him with the Magic?

“I think it was him more so than us,” Crowder said. “I give him credit because he wasn’t playing with the energy and passion he usually brings. I’ve been able to line up against him a quite a few times.  He didn’t have that passion like he did when he was in O-K-C (Oklahoma City). Maybe he’ll have it now. I know exactly what he’s capable of doing; he’s capable of changing the game with his play.”