Bradley and Dooling are a long way from Rondo and Ray, but if they can hold the fort, they can still be valuable.
I've said it before and I'll keep repeating it till I'm blue in the face - this team goes only as far as Rondo and the Big 3 take them. That said, they'll need some help to get to the postseason in one piece and that means the bench has to step up. In particular the bench needs to find a way to score.
The Celtics scored just 34 points against the Nets on Wednesday and then, as Rivers said, set the game back a half-century with a dreadful 25-point showing against the Pacers on Friday, tying a franchise record for offensive futility. In both games a pattern emerged: The starters began with a decent, if underwhelming, start and the second unit couldn’t provide any offensive support.
To their credit, he reserves took the weekend to work together (as the starters got some valuable time off).
Dooling said the reserves spent time going over defensive principles, but the unit's offensive production was the chief concern. Without a surefire go-to player in the second unit (though Bass has shouldered that load and Mickael Pietrus is nearing his debut), there's more of an onus on devising plays that stress ball movement and incorporating all five players. Dooling said those types of plays were implemented on Sunday. "We're trying to find something that works for our unit," said Dooling. "I think we came up with a couple good plays [Sunday] that'll be conducive for the unit that we have."
The aforementioned Pietrus will help some, but he's mostly a spot up corner 3 point shooter on offense. His primary talent is on defense, which means he'll only be adding to the 2nd unit's core strength. That's not actually a terrible thing when I come to think of it. If that 2nd unit can truly lock down the opponent for stretches while the starters are resting, that's as much as you could ask for. The key is locking them down and tossing in a few buckets along the way while you are at it.
Still, can't count on locking teams down for long. Eventually you have to put the ball in the bucket. Looking down the bench, I don't see anyone outside of Brandon Bass really capable of consistently providing scoring on a night in and night out basis. So like Dooling said, they'll have to share the ball and get open looks for each other. Once they hit a few shots, hopefully their confidence will grow and they'll feel more confident as a unit.
On the other hand, this isn't hockey and there aren't going to be a lot of competitive games where at least one of the Big 4 aren't on the court at all times. So those guys are still going to have to have the confidence to look for their own shot instead of deferring to the star (and waiting for him to do something till the last second).
It is still early yet, and this second unit is still getting to know each other as we get to know them. Hopefully we'll see them start to gel sooner than later. Time's a ticking.