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Celtics' Bench Now Has its Own Big Three

We got a glimpse of it in Wednesday night's 92-80 win over the Indiana Pacers

No, not Troy Murphy's ups.

I'm talking about the bench, led by Jeff Green - the Celtics' new second-unit anchor.

Once again, the C's starters came out flat, allowing the Pacers to take control of the lead and go up by as many as seven points in the first quarter before the second unit started to filter into the game.

It certainly wasn't the start they wanted. Doc Rivers has stressed over the last few weeks that the team needs a good start to games, because right now the bench just can't be relied on - the new guys don't have enough experience with each other to come back from leads, maintain leads, or build upon leads.

But last night was a different story.

Down five points to start the second quarter, the C's brought out a lineup of Carlos Arroyo, Delonte West, Jeff Green, Troy Murphy, and Glen Davis.

Aside from Davis, nobody in that lineup had played more than ten games on the team this season, and West hadn't played with anyone but Davis this season to that point (he played with Green back in Seattle).

There weren't many reasons to be thrilled at the C's chances of making a comeback in the second quarter.

But they did.


Because they're getting it. It seems to finally be coming together for the new and improved bench. Maybe this is what Danny Ainge was thinking about when he shipped Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Green and Nenad Krstic, and then traded Marquis Daniels, Semih Erden, and Luke Harangody for picks.

He was thinking about healthy, capable players filling the spots and providing the extra whatever-it-needs-to-be on any given night.

Sure, it was going to take time. As Kevin Garnett said many times last season, "Nobody said this was going to be easy."

It hasn't been this season either, but maybe the biggest bumps in the road are finally in the rear mirror. Maybe the team can finally look at what they have, wait for Shaquille O'Neal to return, and be happy with the product going into the playoffs.

If they can get the type of production in the playoffs that they got from Jeff Green and Friends tonight, they'll be in good shape.

Down 23-19 with a little over eight minutes to play in the second quarter, Green went off to score ten straight points for the Celts. But it may have been the way in which he did it that was even more impressive. Green drove to the hoop and scored, scored from beyond the arc, and scored from the line - capping off his performance by outrunning everyone on the court, forcing a clear path foul out of AJ Price.

He ended the night with 19 points on 6-9 shooting and added three rebounds and three blocks.

"I just go out there and just be aggressive," Green said of his role on the team. "I just go out there and play hard. You play hard and it makes up for a lot of things and leads to some good things. Lately its been going great for us, so the second unit I think we need to continue to do that."

While the starting unit boasts a Big Three of their own, the bench looks to add their version of it soon with the return of a healthy West.

"Well they're more talented now, number one," Rivers said. "The talent is growing with that second unit.  You've got Jeff Green in your second unit, Delonte West in your second unit, Glen Davis.  Pretty good second unit.  It's nice to see them all on the floor.  But even tonight where there were times when we really were not running anything, we were moving the ball, and the ball was just finding the open guy.  And if you play with the right spirit like that, you don't need a lot of offensive sets."

West returned to the court after spraining his ankle during practice a couple weeks ago. He's missed most of the season due to suspension, a broken wrist, and a sprained ankle. While he admits he's not 100-percent, and won't be for the remainder of the season, he still adds an extra element that will only help the Celts going forth.

"They were great today," Pierce said of the bench. "We had a good shoot-around this morning, just going over things. The addition of Delonte really gave them some real good vibes. He's such a poised player, even though he has been out for so long you can just see how he kind of smoothes out the second unit. Especially with his passing, his defense, and his hustle. That unit, they are coming together."

In all, the bench accounted for 39 points against the Pacers, the most points scored off the bench since the trade deadline. Don't expect it to be a one-time deal either. The more they practice, which they have been doing even on typical off days, the better they'll get. And the more they play in games together, the quicker they'll pick up each other's tendencies.

 "The way we played by attacking the basket and finishing the second half was good for just getting a feel for the game," Davis said. "It allowed us to get a better feel for each other; we're still trying to find that. It was good for our team to see that tonight.

"We just need to get a couple more practices under us and things like that, so we can get out there and be one core."

The Celtics weathered the storm. Now they start to form their own.

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