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The Celtics have a commanding 3-0 series lead and won last night’s game running away, but there is still a glaring issue that will have to be fixed if they expect to win in the later rounds.
The Knicks bench has outscored the Celtics bench so far this series 98-35. The Celtics bench has also been out rebounded 42-26.
Friday night, the C’s got 38 points out of Paul Pierce and 32 out of Ray Allen. That’s 70 points from two players and 100 of 113 points in Game 3 came from the starting five. I understand that when the playoffs start, rotations are trimmed down and you can’t realistically expect big numbers from bench guys. The only problem is, when one of your team’s strengths is suppose to be your depth, then that depth has to perform. The Big 4 will get theirs, but if the reserves are giving it up, it’s just counterproductive.
Defenses will improve as the competition improves. Let’s face it, the Knicks do NOT play defense. Two of your five starters are shooting over 60% (Jermaine O’Neal and Ray Allen) and Pierce is shooting 52%. Shooting that well won’t keep happening. The Celtics will need the bench to pick up some of that slack.
There’s a clear letdown when the starters are taking a breather and if that keeps happening, the Celtics won’t play much playoff basketball beyond this series.
The average age of your starters is just under 32 years old, and that’s including the 25-year-old Rajon Rondo. Three of your five starters are averaging at least 39 minutes per game. These guys WILL need to sit in games and WILL need rest if you think they’re going to make a deep playoff run.
It works against the Knicks, but they’re a team that has lost a veteran starting point guard (Chauncey Billups) and has another superstar far from 100% (Amare Stoudemire). They’re playing a team that isn’t going to give them too much competition. The Heat and the Bulls will play you much better. They’ll limit good looks and force players to work.
The C’s have at least one more game this series to try and figure it out before they move on. They better hope they can get it right because if they don’t, they’re going to start their summer a little earlier than anticipated.