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Fittingly, the Celtics ended their road trip with their first loss against the West at the hands of David West. West scored 37 points Saturday night to help topple the C’s 113-106, who were looking for thier first perfect road trip of 5 games or more since 1973.
Paul Pierce finished with a team-high 28 points, Kevin Garnett finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Ray Allen added 17, but it was not enough as the Hornets found a way to storm back in the second half and take the game from the Celts.
When the bench was on the floor, the Celtics got killed. Thanks to the new +/- stat that NBA.com tracks (it’s popular in the NHL), we can tell how teams fared with certain players on the floor. For example, when Rajon Rondo (23 points, 7 assists) was on the floor, the Celtics outscored the Hornets by 13. The same success happened with Kendrick Perkins, with Perk netting a +14.
The bench, on the other hand…yuck. James Posey (-23), P.J. Brown (-15), and Sam Cassell (-14) did not fare well against the Western Conference’s best team, and to me that’s OK. We’re still in the regular season, and Brown and Cassell are still getting into gear. Bench play is vital for success in the playoffs, but if our bench is going to get any experience, we need them out there as much as possible.
The Celtics will finally head home to face the 76ers Monday night. Philadelphia has been playing really well recently, but they’re not closing to being on par with the Celtics, so this should be an easy one. Hopefully, the bench can get more positive minutes. They probably will considering the lesser opponent…