And to Think The Celtics' Bench was Considered their Achilles Heel
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Against the Pistons Saturday night, it was reserve Glen "Big Baby" Davis. Against the Grizzlies Friday night, it was reserve Tony Allen. And against the Rockets Wednesday night, it was reserve Scot Pollard.
Much of the credit for Boston's 29-3 start understandably has gone to stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. But of late, the Celtics' bench has screamed for some attention, too, with its strong performance.
"So much attention has been going to me, Ray, and Kevin," Pierce said. "These guys are overlooked every single night. Tony Allen has been playing his [butt] off for the last week and a half now. He's starting to get his confidence. Big Baby, when he has his opportunities, he's shining. You already know about Eddie House and [James] Posey. Scot Pollard's been great for us. It's been different guys every single night."
The Celtics' bench entered yesterday's games 23d in the NBA in scoring per game with an average of 25.5 points, according to hoopsstats.com. And with perennial All-Stars Garnett, Pierce, and Allen scoring a combined 58.6 points per game, it's doubtful that Boston's ever will be one of the league's top-scoring benches.
But of late, the bench has stepped up to help the Celtics win. During the last three games, the Boston bench has been eighth in scoring, averaging 34.3 points, as well as 14 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.3 3-pointers made. The Celtics' reserves also scored 42 points in the 100-96 win over Memphis, including 20 points from Tony Allen. House is averaging a reserve-best 8 points per game while Posey is averaging 7.
"We ain't looking for no respect," Tony Allen said. "We're just trying to contribute. We are working hard every day to prepare for playoff-type-atmosphere games and stay poised with team basketball by sticking within the system."
House said, "We are just doing our job. When Coach [Doc Rivers] calls on us, he is calling on us to spell the starters and give us a lift. On a night where we don't have a lift to stretch the game out, we have to keep the ship afloat. We can't let it sink."
During Boston's 92-85 win at Detroit Saturday night, Davis was the key reserve as he scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to spark his team. While he made all six of his field goal attempts in the fourth quarter, no starter made more than two. The 6-foot-9-inch, 289-pounder entered the game averaging 4.2 points and had scored a combined 10 points in the previous five games.
"It just feels good to be out there playing and to get a win," Davis said. "The bench is going to be the bench and we'll always be a part of this team. We might have our ups and downs, we might have not-so-good days. We just try to stay consistent to help our team win.
"We are only worried about the 'W.' We are not worried about how many points the bench has. We don't worry about the media and how they talk about us. We just go out there and play."
Said Pierce, "You've got to understand teams are not going to show respect for any of the other guys with me, Kevin, and Ray out there. I don't think they respected Baby out there. But when Baby gets his opportunity, he shows that he can play."
One bench member to keep an eye on is Tony Allen.
Allen has had his ups and downs this season while recovering from left knee surgery that sidelined him for the final 48 games of last season. But over the last five games, including one start, the 6-4, 213-pounder is averaging 11.2 points, 2 assists, 1.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and a .500 field goal percentage.
Allen's biggest game off the bench this season came Friday when he scored those 20 points, a season high, on 8-of-15 shooting. He nailed two 3-pointers and had three steals. He said his knee is getting better every day, but he doesn't believe he will be at full strength until he can dunk on his opponents again.
"I didn't put on my uniform for stats," said Allen, whose team resumes practice today after taking yesterday off. "I put on my uniform to win."