After seven games of the Celtics bench underachieving and the starters carrying the team to get a win, the bench players decided to turn the tide by leading the starters to victory for a change.
The bench we saw during tonight's 98-93 win over the Utah Jazz was the bench we were hoping for all offseason—one that could literally change games and sway them in the Celtics' favor. It's this simple: When the reserve players combine for a season-high 47 points (nearly half of the team's total points), the Celtics win.
The bench players not only put up 47 points, but they did it efficiently. Every player coming off the pine shot over 50 percent en route to a combined field goal percentage of 66.7 percent. Leading this efficient scoring and the reserve dominance were Leandro Barbosa and Jeff Green.
Barbosa's performance tonight was eerily similar to his play in the first game of the season. Tonight, like in the first game, he finished with 16 points on six-of-eight shooting. Although, Barbosa's impact was felt throughout the entire game tonight as opposed to the opening game when he made his mark solely in the fourth quarter.
Perhaps the best indication of how well Barbosa was playing was that Rondo left the game with an ankle injury and no one seemed to notice or get too worked up about it because Barbosa was playing so well in his place.
However, it wasn't just the Brazilian Blur distracting us from Rondo's injury. Jeff Green's jaw-dropping dunk helped in that department as well. For that play, Green took the advice KG gave him to heart.
The ferocious dunk and the "taunt" (if looking at someone is taunting now) were fantastic to see out of a guy whom Kevin Garnett dubbed, too nice.
Even better is that this one play triggered many more like them for Green. Like Barbosa, he too finished with 16 points on just five-for-nine shooting.
Behind Green and Barbosa's 16 points, the bench had its best game of the year. And behind the bench's best game of the year, the Celtics won.
It's always great to win a game and be able to credit it to the reserve players. It truly speaks volumes to this type of team when the starters can all play around 30 minutes or less (which I have still not seen), combine for 51 points and still win.
This could, and hopefully will, be the first of many wins like this. It's hard to beat a team when you don't know who to worry about more—the starters or the bench. And that is exactly the kind of team the Celtics have the potential to become, especially after tonight.