Lederman: Celtics bench in need of repairs

Lederman: Celtics bench in need of repairs

The NBA trade deadline is a little more than two weeks away and despite the Celtics owning the best record in the Eastern Conference, they may need to think long and hard about making a move. 


The Celtics bench unit is shooting 39.3 percent from the floor this season. Not only is that last in the NBA, it’s the sixth-lowest field-goal percentage for a bench unit the past 18 seasons. Their 49.1 effective-field-goal percentage is 29th in the NBA. Of the 160 teams that qualified for the playoffs the past 10 years, only two finished the regular season ranked that low in bench eFG%; and both of those teams lost in the first round.

Part of the problem for the Celtics is the inconsistent shooting of Terry Rozier. The third-year guard has shown flashes as a dependable scorer, but has been unable to avoid long shooting slumps so far in his career (he’s currently mired in a 10-for-41 slump over the past five games). Scary Terry is certainly capable of terrorizing (Terryrizing?) opponents; the Celtics are 20-4 when Rozier hits two or more three-point field goals this season. But that’s happened in just 24 of the 47 games he’s played this season.

You can argue that his defense makes up for the offensive struggles. The Celtics bench does have the second-best defensive rating in the NBA. But how much of that is due to Marcus Smart? And how valuable is a second unit that can defend but has a historically bad FG%? The Celtics are going to have to answer those questions before the Feb. 8 trade deadline. 

To be clear, I’m not suggesting the Celtics trade or replace Terry Rozier. They just need to improve their bench’s ability to make baskets, one way or another, if they want to be playing basketball in June. 



Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

File Photo

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas back in green? Maybe there's a chance after all.

The former Celtics guard, now with the Lakers, started a Q&A session on Twitter and was asked whether he'd consider returning to Boston this offseason. This was his answer...

That's not a no.

Thomas has had a rough go of it since leaving the Celtics. His brief tenure in Cleveland didn't go according to plan, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better out in L.A. The 29-year-old is averaging 15.3 points per game just a year after averaging 28.9 with Boston.

Let the speculation begin.


Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans. 

Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss. 

“He (Davis) was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”

Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth. 

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And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists. 

Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success. 

But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus). 

And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.

“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”

And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. 

At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics. 

But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play. 

And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.

Certainly, more points and rebounds would help. 

But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score. 

That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it. 

Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone. 

“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”