The pressure is on the Celtics, make no mistake about it. They’ve gone from 24 wins last season to a 41-9 record at the All-Star break. From now until mid April the talk will be about preparing for the playoffs and a run at the NBA title.
There should be that kind of talk, what with a Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. That trio has meshed well – proving three superstars can share one basketball and not gripe about it.
The Celtics are a terrific regular-season team, but in the playoffs will they prove deep enough to be able to withstand an injury to Garnett, Pierce or Allen or an offensive outage by any one of their superstars? That’s the critical question and so the pressure felt by this team is not just among its premier players but also among its reserves.
Second unit must show more
It’s not a reach to reason that the contribution of Boston’s bench will determine how far the Celtics go in the playoffs and whether they win the NBA title. This is a team that has enough ingredients to win the championship but it has to work on developing the play of the second unit.
Boston’s bench is short and has to get longer. The rest of the regular season should be committed to developing a stronger and deeper bench, getting more out of Tony Allen, Eddie House, James Posey, Glen Davis, Leon Powe and Brian Scalabrine.
The Celtics need for all of those on their second unit to become positive contributors on a much more consistent basis so that when they’re in a tough playoff series coach Doc Rivers will have confidence to call upon his reserves, feeling they will deliver.
The Celtics have to get their second unit believing it can come in and make a difference, believing that if needed in the playoffs, it can be enough of a factor to help decide a series in Boston’s favor. This unit is not there yet. These players don’t have that collective mentality, but Rivers needs for them to get it by the start of the postseason.
Picking up the Big Three
In the playoffs Boston is going to run into teams trying to make it difficult for Garnett to not only score but also to find the open man, and for Ray Allen and Pierce to get off their shots. Each is a great player and they will have games where their impact will prove huge, but they will also have games where their shots won’t be going down so the Celtics need to be able to call on reserves who can provide dependable scoring. Boston has to get its entire bench playing well so the second unit can pick up any one of the Big Three who may be having an off game.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
The Celtics are not a team that gets a lot of scoring opportunities in transition. They don’t get that many layups. Boston is more a jump shooting team. That’s fine and it’s a formula for success when the jump shots are falling, but when they are not, starters must sit and there needs to be offense coming off the bench.
Posey and Davis are inside players so if they can raise the level of their games they can provide an option when the starters can’t hit the side of a barn. Posey is a long, lean player who can shoot over most two-guards and can also get to the hole. At 6-foot-9 and 290 pounds Davis – even though a rookie – has to be able to get some points inside.
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