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Perspective on Team Depth After the Loss

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....I thought there might be a panic thread or two as soon as this team showed any sign of weakness...

A few things here:

1. Unlike the other teams Boston is contending with for the title, Boston's bench consists of players who are almost entirely new to the team or to the league...Posey and House are in their first year with the team, Powe is in his 2nd year in the league, Tony Allen isn't at 100 percent, and Scal isn't a difference maker type offensively

This group of players was assembled to COMPLEMENT GPA, not to play on their own for 48 minutes...factoring in their unfamiliarity with each other, it isn't surprising that they've struggled to put up points in the absence of 2 of their 3 major stars...the team isn't built to score a lot without them...

2. The Celtics starting unit last night went toe-to-toe with Philly for 3 quarters, even when the rotation was heavily reliant on 3rd unit players...Ray Allen didn't play the 4th quarter much while Glen Davis, Dahntay Jones, and Gabe Pruitt played the bulk of crunch time...it was a 2 possession game close to the 1 minute mark of the 3rd quarter and the starters for that game had mounted a furious assault on the Sixer's lead before running out of steam...

Additionally, the 2nd unit was built for defensive effectiveness and did their job well, despite the absence of two of its stars...The Celtics were able to win the battle of turnovers while only losing out on rebounds  by one. The mixed bunch of Celtics held the Sixers to 46 percent shooting despite the lack of the team’s two best interior defenders.

What to Take Out of This

The poor team shooting, (38% FG, 17% 3-pt) doesn’t reflect the improvement in decision making by the bench unit. The Celtics role players got better shots than they had been able to create in the previous preseason games. House, Scalabrine, and Posey were all able to get good looks with set feet because the movement and reads were substantially better tonight.

Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen were especially effective tonight and that has to be the most important factor in this game. Rondo finally began to show some assertiveness and was the dominant player on the court for a decent stretch of time. Tony Allen had a number of solid drives showing a great change of direction and an excellent understanding of when to pass and when to take it himself. James Posey also started to show his assertiveness and stepped up his offensive game in order to compensate for the teams lack of firepower.

Despite an overwhelming discrepancy in free throw shooting and foul trouble, the team was able to sub players in and out of the game and maintain some semblance of a cohesive offense. They were predominantly perimeter oriented and probably should have looked to the inside a bit more to exploit the Powe/Evans match up, but overall they were much better as a unit in terms of working as a group.

Bottom line, the Celtics are still coming together and growing as a team. They are not built to survive without three starters and two super stars for any extended period of time. However, the back ups have moxy, the ability to defend, and can limit their mistakes. The 2nd unit has made progress week-to-week and should continue to find ways to function effectively when two of their stars are out of the game.

As familiarity grows, the level of execution during the situations when only one member of GPA is in should increase. The bench’s job is to keep the team in the game while the stars rest and they did that for three quarters last night despite their limitations. Operating under the assumption that this team has no chance sans Garnett and Pierce, the game was a success because of the positives that Rondo, T Allen, and Posey brought to the table…