Analyst sends mixed message on Boston Celtics bench helping team during postseason

Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers
Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

The Athletic's Jay King believes that the Boston Celtics bench is simultaneously underrated and a liability for the team, sending mixed messages to a reader asking about the second unit in his latest mailbag.

"The Celtics bench has probably been underrated this season because it doesn’t always produce flashy point totals," King prefaced before saying, "Hauser, Pritchard and Kornet have combined to average 21.1 points per game, but, far more important, Boston has obliterated opponents with basically any combination of its rotation players on the court.

"Could more issues pop up with the bench during the playoffs? Sure. Pritchard is small. Hauser’s not the most physically dominant player. Kornet is limited in some ways. It wouldn’t be shocking to see at least one of them played off the court in a playoff series."

As King pointed out, though, the Celtics' starters will likely give as close as possible to 40 minutes per game, while Al Horford will be deployed for the majority of the bench minutes. The bench won't be make-or-break in the early rounds, but it will be interesting to see how things hold up in the later rounds when the stars are worn from the playoff battles.

Boston Celtics trade deadline additions, Xavier Tillman and Jaden Springer, could see playoff minutes if bench fails

Luckily, Brad Stevens hedged his hit-or-miss bench core by landing Xavier Tillman and Jaden Springer at the 2024 February 8 trade deadline. If King's nightmare scenario of Pritchard, Hauser, and/or Kornet being played off the floor comes to fruition, Joe Mazzulla now has two defensive-minded players, one (Tillman) in the frontcourt and the other (Springer) in the backcourt and on the perimeter, to deploy in an emergency.

One can make the case that Tillman should be ahead of Kornet in the rotation already given the latter's defensive and rebounding deficiencies, but either way, Stevens made the moves he did in early February for when the bench group the Cs started the season with struggles like many feel they might.