October 2, 2007
C's pocket full o' Posey
ROME - When you look at the Celtics roster, it's hard not to notice the big names. When you watch the Celtics practice, it's impossible not to notice how much trouble people like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are getting from the second team.
With James Posey stepping to the fore, the bench now has a defensive identity that should serve the club well. Posey, Tony Allen, Leon Powe, Eddie House and Brian Scalabrine have been getting after it through the first two days of training camp in Italy, making for a more competitive exercise. As a matter of fact, things were going so well that coach Doc Rivers canceled last night's scheduled walk-through session at the hotel.
``They were sluggish (Sunday),'' Rivers said. ``But I thought they were great (yesterday). It was a really good practice.''
Looking at the club overall, the coach added, ``The biggest change besides obviously the three guys is that our bench is all veterans, too - well, not all, but you think about Scal and James Posey and Eddie House. They're not going to look at the starting unit and kiss their butt. They're going to play them, and they're not going to back down.
``The scrimmages between that second unit and the first unit have been very close and very competitive - a lot of barking with each other. Before, when Paul said something, the young guys would back up. Well, they're going nowhere now. Tony Allen's on that group, and he's a bulldog. Leon's on that group. You've got five guys who look the starters in the eye and tell them to bring it on. And that's nice.''
Said Tony Allen: ``It's pretty competitive. There's a lot of pride out there. Guys want to get stops. Basically we're all just trying to make each other better.''
Posey has done a good job of both establishing his own presence and giving Garnett and Pierce a hard go.
``He's very competitive, very tough,'' Garnett said. ``He doesn't just play defense. He knows how to defend. You know what I mean? Some people just defend because they hustle. He actually understands how to defend. It's refreshing. It's a good addition to this team.''
Garnett added that it's a nice feeling when such a potentially key weapon is coming off the bench - a sign that a team has good depth.
``It's a nice weapon to have,'' he said. ``Doc has a couple of different ways he can do things with this team. It's definitely a plus for us. (Posey) makes us more diverse, plus he has the championship experience. He's been in tough games.''
Rivers is enjoying the acquisition of an experienced player willing and capable of doing the dirty work.
``He's been great,'' the coach said. ``He's just smart. He knows how to play. He's always in the right place. It's interesting; sometimes when he doesn't know where to be, he's in the right place. That's just a smart basketball player. His verbal leadership on the bench and on the bus has been fantastic. He won a title two years ago, and he shares that experience with everybody.
``He can guard the 3s. He can guard the 4s. He's a great team defender, as well, which is something we need.''
The Celts also need to avoid a dropoff when one or more of their ``New Three'' is resting.
``We've got some guys on this bench you really can depend on,'' Pierce said. ``(Posey) can play, and you've got Eddie House and Tony Allen. Scal's better this year, and I think Scot Pollard's going to help when he gets better (sprained ankle). I'm really confident in our bench. They're giving us some run.''