SAN ANTONIO – Bench play for the bulk of this season has been a strength of the Boston Celtics.
But with injuries forcing some players into more prominent roles, it appears to finally be catching up to them.
One of the biggest factors in Boston’s 108-105 loss at San Antonio on Saturday was the play of the team’s second units.
Boston’s backups scored 34 points while their San Antonio brethren tallied 54 points.
But it wasn’t just the points scored that mattered as much as when they were scored.
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, one of the best reserves in the league for years and a former all-NBA player coming off the bench, had 15 points.
But seven of those points came in the final 2:19 of play when the game was up for grabs.
And Boris Diaw, another highly regarded reserve with plenty of big-game experience, overwhelmed Boston with his back-to-the-basket game while finishing with 16 points.
You can’t forget about David West, who opted out of his contract with Indiana that was worth $12 million in order to compete for a title off the Spurs bench while making the veteran’s minimum.
He is easily one of the biggest bargains in the NBA this season, with his play being vital to the Spurs (17-4) running their record at home this season to 11-0.
“(David) West and (Boris) Diaw killed us at the beginning of (the second quarter),” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Those guys are good players.”
And that San Antonio second unit is pretty good as well, having shown the ability to impact games in a multitude of ways.
On Saturday, it was scoring the basketball.
“I don’t think you win just because your bench scores,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. “But they obviously did a great job tonight. And if they hadn’t, we probably would have been in bad shape.”
Added Diaw: “Sometimes scoring will come from the bench and sometimes from the starters. Most likely it will come from the starters but there are some nights where the bench is going to do very well offensively.”