Since Rajon Rondo’s season ended, the Boston Celtics bench has stepped their game and are one of the reasons why they’re contending for a higher seed in the Eastern Conference. At this point, it’s become cliché to say that this playoff run all started when Boston’s star point guard went down with a season ending ACL tear, but no matter what side of the spectrum you’re on the results don’t lie, Boston is winning games. How is this all possible? Well, let’s take a deeper look into this current playoff run by the Celtics, and how the bench has been a major contributor to Boston’s success since January.
It all starts with the “we not me” philosophy. The entire team has bought into playing as one, and they know what is required and expected of them. Everyone knows their role, and when their number is called they immediately have an impact on the game. Players like Jordan Crawford, Terrence Williams, DJ White, and even Shavlik Randolph have stepped up in the time they’ve played and have become important pieces off the bench for Boston. These are the same players who have struggled to find a permanent home in the NBA, but somehow they’ve produced numbers that no Celtics fan could have expected them to contribute, considering they joined the team halfway through the season.
- Jordan Crawford – 7.0 ppg 2.5 rebounds 1.4 assists in 11 games played
- Shavlik Randolph – 3.3 ppg 4.3 rebounds in 3 games played
- DJ White- 2.8 ppg 1.5 rebounds in 4 games played
- Terrence Williams – 2.6 ppg 1.2 assists in 10 games played
Now these numbers aren’t impressive, and certainly not something that ESPN would give an honorable mention to, but these players are producing numbers for the Boston Celtics. Both Randolph and White have had to play, and not in garbage time when they game is over. These guys have been put into games during the second and third quarters. Doc Rivers confidence in these players have had an effect on their own individual games and they’ve made an impact in the limited time they’ve seen on the court.
The players who are expected to do well, Jason Terry, Jeff Green, and Chris Wilcox have elevated their games, leading the bench in scoring and setting the tone for the rest of the bench. In the month of March alone, here is what they’re averaging for points scored in the last eight games.
- Jeff Green – 13.6 ppg
- Jason Terry -10.7 ppg
- Chris Wilcox – 4.8 ppg
With that type of offense coming off the bench, Boston has become a dangerous team, even when the starters are off the floor. It’s been a good five to six years since the Celtics could boast that they have a deep bench, not just on paper, but on a nightly basis during games. Recently, the Celtics have been able to put away teams without much help from the starters, which has given the veterans much needed rest in the fourth quarter. In 2010, the bench would rarely maintain or extend leads throughout games, but since January, this year’s Celtics team hasn’t had that problem.
The bench has been a vital part of Boston’s success without Rondo. They’ve carried the team far during the last few months allowing the starters to take a back seat for a few games and easing the pressure off of their shoulders. The Celtics have positioned themselves to be a dangerous opponent to anyone who faces them in the playoffs. If Boston wants to go far in the postseason, the bench will have to remain consistent. With the veteran leadership this team possesses, and their determination to win, I doubt we’ll see anyone slacking or not producing from here on out. This team is special, and if they continue to trust each other they’ll get past any opponent standing in their way.