Celtics get bench help to stop the Pacers, 92-80

Celtics get bench help to stop the Pacers, 92-80
March 17, 2011, 1:53 am
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By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Before Jeff Green was traded to the Boston Celtics and become a key backup, he spent more than 90 percent of his career as a starter with the Oklahoma City.

And just in case anyone forgot, games like Wednesday's 92-80 win over the Indiana Pacers serve as a reminder.

Green had 19 points off the Celtics bench, including 17 in the first half as the C's pulled away for a much-needed victory.

His play was part of a strong night for the Celtics' bench, which outscored their Indiana counterparts, 39-24.

"The second unit got our energy up," said coach Doc Rivers. "Second unit came and it just played."

And their play, particularly in the second quarter, seemed to inspire Boston's starters - specifically, the Big Three.

Green scored 12 straight points in the second that put the C's ahead, 31-29.

His one-man scoring binge was followed by some big shots from the Big Three - Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce - who scored all 11 points during an 11-2 Celtics run that put the C's ahead, 42-31.

"They the second unit were great today," said Pierce who led all scorers with 20 points to go with five assists.

One of the biggest questions with the Celtics has been how quickly can their second unit come together with a number of key players either out with injuries or, in the case of Delonte West, just coming back to the fold after being injured.

Even with all the changes and uncertainty as to who will play, Rivers can see their growth into a formidable unit.

"Well, they're more talented now, number one," Rivers said. "The talent is growing with that second unit. You've got Jeff Green in your second unit, Delonte West in your second unit, Glen Davis. Pretty good second unit."

And on Wednesday, their success began with Green, who acknowledges that his role with the C's is still a work in progress.

"I just go out there and just be aggressive," Green said. "I just go out there and play hard. You play hard and it makes up for a lot of things and leads to some good things."

One of Green's strengths has been his ability to beat most players, regardless of whether he's playing small forward or power forward, down the court quickly.

And his hustle has been rewarded with a lot of good looks in transition from Rajon Rondo, who had eight assists on Wednesday night.

He's also benefited from a small lineup that includes him on the floor with the man he was brought in to play behind, Paul Pierce.

"When me and Jeff are out there, it really causes a matchup situation," Pierce said. "He's so good in the post-up area, along with myself, teams have to decide who they're gong to match up with. Usually one of us is going to have the favorable matchup. It's great because teams don't know what to do. It makes us dangerous out there."

Indiana coach Frank Vogel, a former Celtics video coordinator, acknowledges that this new-look Celtics team does present a new set of problems for opponents.

"They got some different dynamics," said Vogel, whose team had its two-game winning streak snapped. "Jeff Green coming in and playing small forward is a different dynamic with him in the post. They now have two 3-point shooting power forwards they can throw at you. There's a little bit of a different dynamic."

And that dynamic in many ways makes this Celtics team one that keeps them in the conversation for winning an NBA title.

"They're going to go deep," Vogel said.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn