As the Celtics get healthy, the early returns show improved production from a bench that's been inconsistent this season:
Knowing the second unit hasn't been great at keeping opponents off the scoreboard, it was interesting to watch Celtics coach Doc Rivers sub in his reserves as the Philadelphia 76ers cut their deficit to four late in the third quarter Tuesday.
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Ray Allen provides stability with a new and improved second unit for the Celtics.Boston not only pushed that lead back up to 10 before the end of the third quarter, but eyebrows shot skyward when Allen and a second-unit lineup featuring Davis, Delonte West, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic held the 76ers scoreless over a four-minute, seven-possession stretch near the start of the fourth quarter, allowing Boston to extend its lead to 14 before the starters trickled back in.
Yes, the Celtics might have finally uncovered second-unit gold with a starter-light crew that can hold the fort while Boston's heavy hitters get extended rest (even at age 35, Allen seems able to play any amount of minutes). Kevin Garnett played only 24 minutes Tuesday, while starting center Jermaine O'Neal logged just 12:32.
"[The reserve unit] was huge for us," admitted Rivers. "And listen, we're getting healthier, so our bench is starting to resemble a bench. That's good."