Despite Strong Start, Celtics Have Major Blind Spot to Address

Boston looks to continue season-opening winning streak against Indiana Pacers on Wednesday
The Celtics cruised past Washington on Monday night, but momentum quickly shifted when Boston's second unit was on the floor.
The Celtics cruised past Washington on Monday night, but momentum quickly shifted when Boston's second unit was on the floor. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the win-loss column, the Boston Celtics could not have asked for a better start to the 2023-24 campaign.

After holding off a pair of Eastern Conference heavyweights in the New York Knicks and Miami Heat to open the season, Boston improved to 3-0 on Monday night by rolling to a 126-107 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Jaylen Brown led the way with a game-high 36 points, while Jayson Tatum added 33. Playing against his former team for the first time since being traded this past offseason, Kristaps Porzingis supplied 15 points in the win.

As dominant of a performance as it was, the inferiority of the Celtics' bench was on full display.

Boston went into the fourth quarter with a 33-point lead, allowing it to sit its starters for the final period. The second unit looked completely discombobulated, though, quickly finding itself on the wrong end of an extended 26-9 run that made it 117-101 with 2:20 left.

By the time the fourth was all said and done, the Celtics had shot 28 percent (7-for-25) from the field in the quarter and had committed eight turnovers that led to 16 Washington points.

Luckily the game's outcome was never in question, but it might officially be time to start worrying about Boston's second line.

Breaking Down the Numbers

Following Monday's slate of games, the Celtics ranked last in the NBA in bench points with just 46. Granted, they've only played three games while a number of other teams have played four, but Boston also ranked dead last in average bench points per game (15.3).

For reference, Portland Trail Blazers guard -- and reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year with the Celtics a season ago -- Malcolm Brogdon single-handedly clears the average scoring output of Boston's entire second unit with 19.3 points per game.

The lack of offense with the starters off the floor was evident in the season opener, but viewing the glass half full had us thinking that was surely just the growing pains of Game 1 of 82. It's still far too early to press the panic button, but we certainly have more questions than answers when it comes to just how deep this team really is.

Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser were supposed to be guiding the subs to success, but to say they've been cold would be an understatement. Pritchard is shooting 15.4 percent from the field and 10 percent from beyond the arc, while Hauser is shooting 25 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

On the bright side, Celtics starters have poured in 307 points -- the most from any starting unit that has only played three games (the next closest is the Cleveland Cavaliers' starters, who have 282 points). Only six teams' opening lineups have put the ball in the hoop more, with all six of those teams having played four games already.

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