Boston Celtics: Danny Ainge Must Improve Bench to Make Noise in Playoffs

Frances White@WestEndGirl62Analyst IIMarch 10, 2012

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 28: The Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge waves during the 2008 NBA World Championship ceremony before a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the TD Banknorth Garden on October 28, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

We all know the story of how in the summer of 2007, Danny Ainge made a move that gave us a redux of "The Big Three." Boston was the class of the 2007-2008 season that culminated with a walloping of the Los Angeles Lakers in the TD Garden for the 2008 NBA Championship. 

It is there we caught a first glimpse of the Celtic in a young Rajon Rondo.  He was a defensive whirling dervish and the team followed his lead by running the floor.  At that time, the Celtics bench was young, athletic and just as ornery as the vets who surrounded Rondo. 

The bench consisted of Leon Powe, Glen "Big Baby" Davis, sharpshooter Eddie House, all-purpose James Posey and another defensive hawk in Tony Allen.  P.J. Brown was the old man of the group and Sam Cassell played the part of "Yoda" for Rondo.

At that time, they all looked like a bench mob that would be around for the long haul.  Posey was the steadying influence; he could hit the occasional three, play the three or four and was a helluva defensive player, too. 

House never met a three-point shot he didn't like; in fact, he had a better percentage shooting beyond the arc then he did attempting a layup.  

Davis and Powe provided the added muscle and venom needed to man the paint.  Powe would manhandle bigger opponents with his low center of gravity while Baby's mid-range game was still in its infancy. 

It all started to unravel in the 2008-2009 offseason.  James Posey became a free agent and wanted more than GM Danny Ainge was willing to offer.  He saw no need to mortgage his future for a player on the down side of his career. 

In the summer of 2008, Posey moved on to the New Orleans Hornets where his game did not match the $25 million investment.  He is now wallowing on the deep end of Indiana's bench.

Leon Powe blew out his knee during the 2009 season, and thus ended the career of a promising rags-to-riches story.  He is now known as a nice guy who experienced bad luck waiting for a call for another opportunity to live his dream.

Danny felt he had the 'home-field advantage when it came to Tony Allen; and underrated glue-guy and defender.  Allen felt Danny low-balled him during negotiations; that is when the Memphis Grizzlies swooped in with a slightly better offer. 

Allen's arrival gave the Grizzlies an attitude adjustment and solidified a team that was searching for an identity.

Danny has since traded Eddie House who was unceremoniously dumped by the Miami Heat during the 2012 offseason.

Glen Davis lived up to his moniker "Big Baby"; he refused to grow up.  He saw his game as starter material; but in actuality it screamed sixth man.  The 2011-12 season saw him exercise his right as an unrestricted free agent. 

Boston traded him to Orlando for Brandon Bass. 

A Davis clone in game only; Bass is a model citizen.  Though Glen was the better defender, Brandon is proving to be a quick study and is more than holding his own.

This year's second unit has a mixture of young veterans who seemed to always play well against Boston when they were on other teams. 

Rivers had always been enamored with Keyon Dooling's game; so Danny traded a second-rounder to the Milwaukee Bucks for his services. 

Unfortunately, it has been the Celtics providing medical services.  Keyon has not had a healthy season so far.  The coaching staff has also put out an APB for his missing offensive game.

It didn't matter what team he was on; Chris Wilcox would kill the Celtics on the boards.  Danny thought he had a coup when he offered Wilcox the mini-mid-level exception of approximately $3 million.  He hasn't lived up to his billing, either.

Finally, Mikael Pietrus, "Air France"; came in with the reputation of a three-point shooter and an even better defender. He keeps promising a better second half, but it hasn't happened yet. 

According to Comcast New England, "Pietrus, who did not participate in the team's morning shoot-around, has soreness in his right knee, the same knee he had surgery on last summer."

That leaves the Celtics with the flotsam and jetsam of Sasha Pavlovic, and Marquis Daniel along with rookies Greg Stiemsma, JaJuan Johnson and E'Twan Moore.  None of them got much burn once Doc tightened his rotation.

You see Doc never put much stock in playing rookies, and not since 2008 has Danny ever been able to give him a healthy bench. Second-year player Avery Bradley, a ready-made NBA defender, has the one skill Doc craves: defense. He backs up Rajon Rondo.

Boston has strung together a bench that keeps trying not to make mistakes, but ends up looking clueless almost every night.

This forces the starters to play significantly more minutes which isn't good for a set of thirty-something legs.  The result a season of mediocrity and a frustrated point guard who was born to run with the wind.

The Celtics will remain in the also-ran category as long as Danny fails to give his aging vets better and consistent support for the bench. Lets hope and pray that he heeds the S.O.S. of tired legs and do something by the March 15 trade deadline.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.