Davis on Celtics' bench: 'It's coming together'


Davis on Celtics' bench: 'It's coming together'

By JessicaCamerato

BOSTON - The Boston Celtics have been searching for the identity of their second unit the entire season.

First it was injuries that prevented that from happening. Then midseason acquisitions forced a slew of new faces to gel with only a few months to go.

With the playoffs starting in less than two weeks, the Celtics have struggled to establish consistency and rhythm with their bench.

On Tuesday night, they found it.

Its coming together like we want it to come together, Glen Davis told CSNNE.com following the Celtics' 99-82 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. It takes time for us to be able to gel and have chemistry the way we want to have it.

Davis, Jeff Green, Delonte West, and Nenad Krstic (who was moved to the bench following the return of Jermaine ONeal) offered a glimpse into the potential of the Celtics second unit.

They combined for 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists while committing just 3 turnovers. Coming into the game, the bench had averaged 26.7 points per game and scored just 15 points in a recent loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

I think were getting together, said Krstic. The first couple games we played together we werent on the same page. But I think the biggest key is were getting used to each other and playing together. I think thats the key for the second unit.

The players noted improved communication and defense. They shared similar reaction after the game, indicative of their cohesiveness on the court.

I knew it was going to take time for us to grasp what Doc Rivers really wanted, but I think now were starting to click and were starting to get what we need out of the second unit as far as defensively, said Green. We gained that trust with one another as far as on the defensive end which led to great offensive possessions."

The bench allowed the Celtics to maintain a lead without having to rely on the starters, whose rest is critical at this point in the season.

The second unit was more cohesive, said Kevin Garnett. I thought the ball movement was very steady. I thought they were aggressive, but they shared the ball. Both the first and second teams talked to each other about just more consistency, and I thought both teams were just that tonight.

After a solid effort on Tuesday night, the Celtics' second unit looks to carry that momentum through the remainder of the regular season and right into the playoffs.

We were just on point tonight, and thats how we need to be in the playoffs, said Davis. We need to stay focused and stay simple, do what we know whats best. Dont do anything out of character. Do what we do.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

NBA Question of the Day: Who will be the MVP?


NBA Question of the Day: Who will be the MVP?

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From now until training camps open, we'll be asking questions about the NBA and the upcoming season. Today: Who will be the NBA MVP?

BOSTON – It’ll be months before we have a feel for who the best players in the NBA will be this season.
But it’s never too soon to start looking at potential NBA candidates, is it?

This year’s MVP race will have plenty of contenders of course, some being familiar faces while there’s likely to be at least one or two who emerge as the season progresses.
Here’s a look at five players who should emerge as league MVP candidates this season:

5. Damian Lillard, Portland
Only 26 years old, the former rookie of the year award winner has been selected to a pair of All-Star games. But that’s not what will make him an MVP candidate this season. He plays for the Blazers, a team whose rebuild following LaMarcus Aldridge’s departure to San Antonio, has taken off quicker than expected.
Expectations were extremely low for a Portland team that shocked the NBA world and finished with the fifth-best record in the West and advanced to the second round last season.
Terry Stotts emerged as one of the league’s better coaches and guard C.J. McCollum garnered the league’s Most Improved Player award.
But the engine that makes the Blazers go is Lillard.
The 6-foot-2 guard’s ability to score from the perimeter, off the dribble and all points on the floor, makes him an extremely difficult cover.
And while the addition of ex-Celtic Evan Turner will help take some of the playmaking pressure off Lillard, this is still his team and will go only as far as he can lead them.

4. LeBron James, Cleveland
As we saw in Cleveland’s run towards the franchise’s first NBA title last season, James can become the most dominant player at both ends of the floor when the game matters most. And while those qualities will certainly make him one of the best in the game, James isn’t likely to be as dominant as we’ve seen in past years.
And the reason can be summed up in two words: Kyrie Irving.
Irving really had a coming out of sorts in the NBA Finals when he outplayed two-time league MVP Stephen Curry which was one of the biggest reasons for Cleveland’s championship aspirations coming to fruition.
And let’s face it.
James can win this award every year and those who vote for him would have plenty of legitimate reasons to do so.
But this season, James will likely be sharing more of the limelight than ever with Irving who may be called upon to pick up more of the offensive slack depending on how things play out with free agent J.R. Smith.

3. Stephen Curry, Golden State
As the reigning league MVP each of the past two seasons, it will be difficult for Curry to do enough to garner a 3-peat.
When he won his first MVP award, Golden State was poised to win its first NBA title in 40 years. And last season’s MVP hardware came at the tail-end of an unprecedented season in which Golden State became the gold standard for regular season success with 73 wins.

But this regular season will be one in which Curry’s numbers are likely to take a dip with the arrival of Kevin Durant.

Still, Curry will continue to be the player most of the league’s shooting guards are measured against and far more often than not, fall short in their efforts to be as good as Curry.
The addition of Durant will certainly shift some of the immense on-the-floor attention Curry usually gets, which should make for an easier time for Curry.
But here’s the thing.
Just like opponents will be focusing more attention towards Durant, the same holds true for the media and fans which means Curry may in fact become a more efficient player this year with fewer folks actually recognizing it.

2. Paul George, Indiana
With a year back in the game following a horrific knee injury, Paul George is poised to re-enter the league MVP race with a vengeance.
The 6-9 George comes into this season with a number of factors working out in his favor to at least give his candidacy a legitimate shot of getting started.
For starters, he’s as healthy as he has been in years. In the past few years, that has been one of the biggest factors that has kept him from being in the league MVP conversation. Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird has assembled a talented group whose collective strengths work well with what George brings to the game.
And speaking of the Pacers, those additions along with George’s ability should lift Indiana into being among the top five or six teams in the East. The closer to the top they finish, the better George’s chances become.

1. Kevin Durant, Golden State

Even though Durant has joined a Golden State team that has been to the NBA Finals each of the past two seasons, he will come in and immediately become the alpha male of this team.

Durant probably won't wind up winning a fifth scoring title, but he will still be among the leagues’ top scorers and lead the Warriors offensively.
And while the success of Golden State will hinge heavily on the contributions of many, their regular season success will be credited in large part to the addition of Durant which can only enhance his chances of winning league MVP for a second time in his career.
He will be the first to tell you that his focus going into this season has absolutely nothing to do with being the NBA’s MVP.
And I believe him.
Durant signed with Golden State to win a championship; it’s that simple.
And in doing so, he bypassed the comfort of staying with Oklahoma City or penning a new narrative in his basketball journey by joining a team trending towards a championship but not quite there yet.
But for him to win a championship, it would mean continuing to be a dominant force while meshing his skills with an even more talented group of teammates.
For Durant to put up numbers similar to those he has in the past AND win more games towards a title, will be more than enough to assert his place among the game’s top players.
It’s what you would expect from the MVP.