Despite off-night, C's still confident in reserves

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Despite off-night, C's still confident in reserves

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

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."

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

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.