Last year's team just didn't have enough at the end of the year. A similar problem plagued them at the end of the prior two years as well. When you have to exhaust your starters to get them through a grueling regular season and 2 or 3 playoff series battles, you don't leave enough for closing time.
All the pressure was on the starters because the bench was either hurt or simply not very talented on the offensive side of the floor. Enter this year's bench. There's depth and offensive talent all around.
But the Celtics, with Danny Ainge’s recent additions, certainly seem to be chasing the Miami model. Including the recuperating Avery Bradley, they go five deep in the backcourt, with Rajon Rondo [stats] the only true point guard in the bunch. They are three deep in all three frontcourt positions as well, with the resurgent Jeff Green shaping up as the ultimate swing forward. Rivers wants to downplay the list of combinations he can now throw onto the floor, but he has to admit that his matchup options are almost endless.
Go right down the roster: Playing alongside or backing up Rondo is a list of 5 combo guards, 3 or 4 of whom could be starting on most teams. Pierce finally has a reliable backup 3 in Green, who is good enough that Doc will need to find ways to use him as a 4 as well. Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett return as the frontcourt starters for now. But backing them up are Jared Sullinger, Chris Wilcox, and Darko Milicic (a first round steal and two potential bargains at the vet min. each). You can also toss in Jason Collins when you need 6 fouls and a big defensive body.
That's a lot of options for Doc to play with and it will be fascinating to see how he mixes and matches them. I haven't even had time to figure out what Doc plans to do with Barbosa, never mind Avery Bradley when he returns.
"Adding Barbosa made a deep bench even deeper," said Terry. "Not only are we deep, but we’re very explosive and we are going to look to outscore everyone’s bench this season, every time we step out on the floor. "We have the deepest bench in basketball. The Clippers might have something to say about that, but it’s us in this locker room. Our mission every night is to go out and outwork and outscore every other bench."
Considering how the bench offense looked last year, that would be something to write home about.