By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON The Boston Celtics came into the season believing their strength is in their numbers.
As impressive as their starting unit may be, the C's were just as confident in their second unit.
When the C's went to the bench, there would be no scoring lull, not with guys like Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels and Glen Davis as reserves.
But then came a few injuries.
That was followed by a few more.
Before you knew it, the Celtics' second unit looked like, well, a second unit.
Just as the injuries have forced the Celtics' starters to transform their play to some degree, the same can be said for the team's second unit.
Getting points from them would be nice, but no longer is it an necessity.
"If we're not getting shots to fall on offense, we have to provide energy and good defense," Celtics forward Luke Harangody told CSNNE.com.
That wasn't necessarily what happened in the first half of Friday's 99-94 win over Charlotte.
Boston went into the half tied at 42, with the second unit going scoreless while collectively missing all eight of their shots from the field. For the game, Boston's backups finished with nine points, five assists and six rebounds while missing 12 of their 15 shots from the field.
The starters re-established Boston's control in the third quarter, and the second unit players essentially maintained it.
Rivers had a conversation with his team in the third quarter reminding them about the importance of getting stops defensively, regardless of how good or bad things are going offensively.
"We've got a lot of guys with offensive minds on the second unit," Rivers said. "And if they're' not making shots, then all of a sudden they can't defend anymore because mentally they're still down on the offensive end. That's what we just keep working with them at; they're getting better at it."
No one disputes that the Celtics' reserves didn't have their best game offensively.
But that won't have any bearing on the Celtics' view of their second unit.
"There's going to be nights when they carry us, and vice-versa," said Rajon Rondo, who had 18 points, 13 assists and six rebounds. "We got the win. It doesn't matter if they scored or not. They did a great job defensively. They didn't give up a big lead or anything, so it was cool."