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