Boston Celtics Bench Will be Key to Successful Season


In the NBA, a blueprint for success often involves one to three star players and a bench that goes three or four players deep. This has proven to be a winning combination over the years, a formula that many teams don’t stray far from.

Don’t tell that to the Boston Celtics.

Ten players saw significant playing time in the Celtics victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night. This doesn’t even include two rookies who saw their first action, a promising rookie who didn’t play due to sickness, and the suspended Kelly Olynyk.

Imagine the possibilities when a team has the opportunity to give quality playing time to 10-12 players every night. The Boston Celtics, at the moment, have this exact opportunity laid out before them.

It’s easy to speculate when the season is only one game old but part of the reason the Celtics played the way they did last year was because of a strong bench. There is no reason to believe there will be a drop off this year. In fact, the Celtics should be even stronger.

Look no further than the 67 points put up by the bench in Wednesday’s victory. Led again by the ball of energy that is Isaiah Thomas (27 points), the Celtics had six players off of the bench play 15 minutes or more. This type of contribution from the bench will determine how far the Celtics get this year as far as the playoffs are concerned.

Head Coach Brad Stevens has been provided the luxury to be flexible with his lineups. Players like Jared Sullinger (13 points, 7 rebounds off the bench) and Evan Turner are both used to being starters in the NBA.

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They still might start throughout the year, especially against smaller, quicker lineups in which Turner might be more useful as a starter. Truth be told, part of the season’s success will depend on how players adapt to either starting or coming off of the bench.

Stevens will also have the luxury of more options in riding a hot hand, especially if Thomas is having an off night. And it will happen. Thomas is a special player, but let’s be honest, it’s a long season and he’s bound to have an off night once or twice.

Injuries, or banged up bodies from a long season, will hopefully be limited because of the tremendous amount of depth on the Celtics. Stevens, if needed, can give a player or two night’s off without seeing much of a drop off in talent and ability.

If game one is to be any indication, fans expect to see a heavy rotation of players. Avery Bradley played the most minutes in the game, logging in just over 32. That won’t be the case every game, but if your star players aren’t having to play over 40 minutes every game, the end results will be positive.

The Boston Celtics have a solid plan in place. There is no superstar among them. Instead they are made up of a team with above average talent, dedication, and a whole lot of hustle. Setting aside ego and sacrificing minutes for some players will be vital to the Celtics success in the 2015-16 season.

As my high school coaches always said, it’s not who is on the floor to start the game but who is on the floor to end it. If winning games means coming off of the bench so be it. Something the Celtics players should be wise to remember. If they do that and the bench continues to dominate, this long season will be even longer. In the best way possible.

Next: Previewing Celtics vs. Raptors: Game Two

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