Celtics

Celtics looking for production from new bench

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Celtics looking for production from new bench

BOSTON The Boston Celtics have four all-star players -- five if you throw in Jermaine O'Neal. It stands to reason that any shot at bringing home a championship lies with that group.

But when you look at the C's 2008 title run, it's clear just how important role players were to that team. James Posey's name immediately comes to mind.

If you examine the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks' postseason success, you can't overlook the breakout season of former Northeastern standout J.J. Barea.

So as the C's began to gear up for the 2011-2012 season, their best shot at a deep playoff run likely has as much to do with their bench players as it does with their stars.

"We have guys that can do it for us," Celtics guard Ray Allen told CSNNE.com. "Anytime you do anything great, it requires a few of your players on your team to have their best years. That's what we rely on."

When you look at the Celtics roster, there are a number of candidates to be standouts off the bench -- guys like Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox and Keyon Dooling.

"We're excited about Keyon, we're excited about Brandon, we're excited about Chris . . . Those guys have proven that they're good role players coming off the bench, that can help us win," Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations told CSNNE.com.

And with injuries already taking their toll on the Celtics -- Rajon Rondo (right ankle) and Paul Pierce (right heel) have already missed practices -- the Celtics are more likely to use more of their bench than in past years.

"That's why I'm here, to help this team win anyway I can," Wilcox said. "Starting, coming off the bench. It doesn't matter. I've never been to the playoffs, so winning is all I'm about now."

And while the Celtics' roster as it stands now isn't star-studded when you look at the backups, there is a certain brand of toughness most of the C's second-unit players can bring to the floor.

That'll come in handy when the games come fast and furious this season.

"It is a lot of them (games), and they will be coming real quick," Bass acknowledged. "But the good thing is, we ain't the only ones that have to deal with it. Everybody in the NBA has to go through that."

With so many games so tightly wound together, it won't be that surprising if there are games when then Celtics find themselves being carried not by the Big 4, but a player or two from the second unit.

"You ride a hot player who you didn't expect to get hot in a certain moment," Allen said. "It's not a predetermined formula. As it happens, you just go with it."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

CLEVELAND – Jayson Tatum has seen plenty of games featuring Cleveland’s LeBron James.

And in the Boston Celtics’ preparation for Tuesday night’s matchup, the 19-year-old rookie had seen plenty of James on film.

But facing him, up close and personal, was something entirely different.

“He’s way bigger than I thought,” Tatum said. “He’s way better than I imagined. That’s the reason why he is who he is.”

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James’ play was among the key factors in Cleveland handing Boston a 102-99 loss on Tuesday night.

But Tatum showed he too has some big-time potential by finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds which included some nifty drives to the basket as well as showing the ability to hold his own on the glass in terms of rebounding the basketball.

The last Celtics rookie to post a double-double on opening night?

That was Larry Bird back in 1980, helping the Celtics to a 114-106 win over the Houston Rockets.

What’s even crazier?

Bird had 14 points and 10 rebounds in that Rockets game, too.

Tatum’s solid performance didn’t seem in the making in the first half when Tatum had missed all five of his shot attempts while tallying just two points.

But as the Celtics mounted their comeback, Tatum’s play was a key to the team’s improved play.

“Just being more relaxed” was how Tatum described his improved play in the second half.

Tatum added, “first half, I think I was nervous and anxious. And then the game slowed down for me. That helped out a lot.”

And the Celtics will need even more from Tatum going forward after Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that will keep him sidelined indefinitely.

There was plenty of room for him to improve upon following Tuesday’s game.

But for the most part, head coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw from the rookie.

“Jayson was pretty good,” Stevens said. “He did a pretty good job for a first game. That’s pretty hard to do, to be thrown into this environment, first game and play that well.”

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