Bland stat lines aside, the bench of the Boston Celtics is doing what they can to keep the team on track for a title shot.
They won’t wow anyone and seldom do they pile up points in the box score but the bench of the Boston Celtics is doing the little things to help the team win. If they continue to perform at a respectable level, the Celtics will certainly be playing into late September and early October.
The trio of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker, rightfully so, demand the most attention from opposing teams. Players like Brad Wanamaker, Enes Kanter, and a handful of young talent, however, will also be integral to Boston’s title hopes.
The question remains as to whether the stars of this Celtics team can shoulder a scoring load the rest of the way.
Offense for the Celtics off the bench, in both efficiency and scoring, has been an issue throughout most of the season. Even with Hayward around, there was the question of who will step to provide a scoring punch off the bench.
Kanter has had a couple of nice scoring games, as has Smart, but even they had a better input on offense when they were in the starting lineup. Even Wanamker was starting to score more before the break in play back in March.
Still, the bench continues to find ways to affect the game.
Doing the little things
A microcosm of what the bench is capable — and not capable of — can be seen in the first three games of Boston’s first-round series with the Philadelphia 76ers. Sure, the Celtics are up 3 games to 0, but the bench has been all over the place when you simply look at the stats.
In Game 1, the bench contributed an entire eight points. That was followed up by a 41-point outburst in Game 2 and a nice round 20 in Game 3.
Individually, there have been plenty of contributions, whether it’s during stretches or for an entire game. Grant Williams has done it across all three games, whether it was a variety of hustle plays and solid defense in the fourth quarter of Game 1 or 9 points and 6 rebounds in Game 2.
In Friday night’s Game 3 victory, it was five straight points in the 3rd quarter.
Wanamaker has been providing quality minutes as well, doing a little bit of everything. He’s getting the ball into the hands of the scorers and scoring as needed. Wanamaker has been a pest on defense, collecting three blocked shots in Game 2.
Kanter is averaging 8 points and 7.5 rebounds the last two games.
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And Romeo Langford is proving his worth on the defensive end, providing valuable minutes in the fourth quarter in Game 3.
One player who I thought might have more impact on this series was Robert Williams III. Williams was playing well in the seeding games and, though I never believed him to be an option in the starting lineup, figured he’d see some minutes against Joel Embiid.
However, after scoring only two points and collecting seven rebounds in the first two games, didn’t play in Game 3.
The bench of the Boston Celtics won’t turn a lot of heads. They aren’t miracle workers but they are doing the little things needed. As long as they can help maintain and keep Boston in games, the starters will take care of the rest.
For this season, that may just be enough.