The Boston Celtics have been sputtering as of late, but it has little to do with the bench.
Glen Davis, Delonte West and Jeff Green are slowly coming along and developing into a trio that could be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.
It's hard to pinpoint the exact cause for why the Celtics have struggled: some nights it's offense, some nights it's defense, some nights it's both.
Generally, it seems to be a lack of concentration, cohesion and effort on the floor, stemming from the starting unit.
But to think that a veteran team like the Celtics—who have struggled against poor teams all year—won't figure it out in time for the playoffs (where there aren't any sub .500 teams or back-to-back games), seems a little far-fetched.
When the playoffs do get here, the Celtics will have one of the best benches in the NBA to play with.
Despite their high volume of depth, the Celtics aren’t going to run a 15 man rotation come playoff time.
But they have one of the more talented nine men rotations in the league: Glen Davis, Delonte West, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic are the likely candidates to fill out the regular rotation once the playoffs start.
Glen Davis has been having a career season. Finally living up the potential that he’d previously shown in flashes, Davis has averaged starters minutes (29.2 per game), and he’s been the player all season (not Shaq or Perkins) ending the game along with the rest of the starters.
Since joining the C’s, Jeff Green has shown the ability to score the ball in bunches. In just 16 games, he’s averaging 10.7 points in just 22.7 minutes, which translates to 17.0 points per 36 minutes.
He’s the best scorer and biggest offensive X-factor the Celtics have had coming off the bench in the big three era, and his size, athleticism and versatility make him a nightmare matchup for opponents.
Delonte West has been making strides in his return from ankle and wrist injuries. West has played in just 15 contests all season, but he’s been making improvements. His offense isn’t all the way back yet, but he’s shown his ability as a leader and a cool-head on the floor.
Krstic provides the Celtics with a big man who can stretch the floor who has been surprisingly agile on the boards. Once Shaq is back, Krstic will find his home as a backup center.
Guys like Jermaine O’Neal, Sasha Pavlovic, Troy Murphy, Von Wafer and Carlos Arroyo won’t be regulars in the playoff rotation, at least to start. However, they bring a certain, valuable skill set that can be utilized in select scenarios.
O’Neal is a shot blocker, and has at times looked like the defensive center they signed him to be. His issues this year aren’t regarding the quality of his play, but rather the quantity, as O’Neal has appeared in just 17 games.
Pavlovic is a reliable perimeter defender. Listed at 6’8'', 220 pounds, Pavlovic is a physical mismatch capable of bodying the likes of a LeBron James or Luol Deng.
Murphy is a 11 year NBA veteran, capable of knocking down the long ball and rebounding well. He’s been inconsistent and hesitant on the floor with the Celtics this year, the result of playing only 18 games of limited minutes with the Nets prior to his buyout. But, if he reverts back to his old form, he could work himself back into the regular rotation.
Von Wafer has shown the ability to space the floor and, perhaps more importantly, has a much improved defensive game.
Carlos Arroyo is about as solid of a third point guard option as there is in the league.
The “core four” of the Celtics off the bench–Glen Davis, Delonte West, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic–all have significant experience starting and or playing starters minutes in the NBA.
All four could be starting on other teams right now.
Davis and West have played and succeeded in high pressure playoff situations before.
O’Neal, Murphy, Pavlovic, Wafer and Arroyo are all NBA vets with considerable backlogs of playing time.
The likes of Wafer and Arroyo have worked hard to keep themselves in the NBA after spending time playing international basketball.
Delonte West is the true definition of a combo guard. He’s neither a point guard or a shooting guard, but only because he plays both positions equally well.
Jeff Green is a small forward capable of playing the four, as he did in Oklahoma City.
Glen Davis is a power forward who has seen limited time at the three this year and a significant amount of time at the five. Offensively or defensively, he’s a capable option at either the four or the five.
West, Green and Davis’ ability to cover all five positions make it easy to mix and match with the starters or the rest of the bench, depending on matchup problems and whoever has the hot hand.