By Alexander Teal
The Boston Celtics are once again coming out of the gates with win after win. A huge focal point of the offseason was the potential of having one of the best benches in the league. Early on the dynamic of the bench was tested, but as of late they seem to be hitting their stride.
With Delonte West serving a 10-game suspension and the O’Neal tandem constantly hobbled, the team’s reserves are playing a bit short-handed. You wouldn’t know it, though, watching them out-play both Chicago and Oklahoma City’s bench to pick up a pair of big wins.
“We want to be the best bench, regardless of whether the starters are playing great or not,” Marquis Daniels told South Coast Today. “We’ve got each other’s backs.”
The win over the Oklahoma City Thunder was the first game of a tough four-game road trip that continued to Dallas, Miami, and Memphis.
“I think Coach really has confidence in [the bench],” said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. “It was big for them to come in and step up. They gave us some confidence to start this road trip.”
When the starters know the reserves are gelling and are playing with confidence it is easier for the entire team to play well; mixing and matching lineups is made easier for Coach Doc Rivers.
“[A third-quarter lapse] forced me to put our bench in at a point when it was a six-point game,” Rivers said after the win over the Thunder. “Semih, Nate and Baby, that whole group, was absolutely terrific. They won the game for us. It went from a six- to a -point lead with our bench on the floor.”
The play of the bench has improved greatly and cohesiveness is no longer a problem. This could not have happened at a better time; and for the time being, the bench gets better every night.