The Celtics’ depth has often been viewed as a hindrance instead of a positive as the history of the NBA suggests that having a regular rotation and a short bench is one of the major keys to success in the playoffs. Even in the regular season, this Celtics team didn’t begin clicking until Brad Stevens found a regular eight or nine players to go to battle with. In the C’s best win of the season – at Golden State – Stevens used just four bench players and played his starters a total of 158 minutes . In the C’s worst game of the season – a home loss to the lowly Lakers in December – Stevens used six players off the bench and played his starters a total of 148 minutes.
Stevens will be forced to reach into his vault of quality guards Tuesday in Game 2 of the Celtics’ best-of-seven series against Atlanta (7 p.m., TNT, CSNNE) as Avery Bradley is not expected to be back anytime soon thanks to the hamstring injury he suffered in Game 1.
Evan Turner played 34 minutes off the bench in Game 1 and Marcus Smart played 29 minutes off the pine. Those totals were by design as the Celtics like to go small most of the time. The starting backcourt of Bradley and Isaiah Thomas played 33 and 37 minutes respectively in the narrow Game 1 loss. Two-guard R.J. Hunter also made a brief appearance in Game 1 and the Boston Globe reported Monday that Stevens told rookie guard Terry Rozier to “be ready” for Game 2.
“I think the one thing about having a guy like Avery out is you’ve got guys like Marcus Smart and Evan Turner who have played a starter’s role for us all year off the bench,” Stevens said. “Both of those guys are going to be critically important to replacing Avery or adding to what they normally do.”
The Hawks also implement a heavy workload for their guards as Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver each played over 32 minutes. Dennis Schroder and Tim Hardaway Jr. played a combined 19 minutes off the Hawks’ bench.