Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers' gutsy decision to keep his bench players in at the end of a pivotal Game Four ended up paying off Thursday night.
But heading into the last leg of the 2010 NBA Finals, it's not a good sign for the Celtics that their bench outperformed their starters.
Or that the starters asked Rivers to stay on the bench down the stretch.
"Hell, (Rajon) Rondo and all of them were begging me to keep guys in. 'Don't take them out. Don't take them out,'" said Rivers, according to ESPN.com. "It was great. That was the loudest I've seen our bench, and it was our starters cheering from the bench. I thought it was terrific."
That might be what Rivers tells the public, but internally he can't be pleased with using his reserves to finish off the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four and even up the series 2-2.
Arguably, more than any other sports league, the NBA is all about star power. The fact that the Lakers and Celtics are squaring off in The Finals only proves that point.
Kobe Bryant. Pau Gasol. Lamar Odom. Paul Pierce. Kevin Garnett. Ray Allen. Rajon Rondo.
Those are the players who will ultimately determine which team takes home its second NBA Championship in three seasons.
Not Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, Rasheed Wallace, and Tony Allen.
True, those reserves had a fleeting moment of greatness, but expecting them to replicate that performance down the road is asking too much.
As Ray Allen proved by having one of the greatest Finals shooting performances in Game Two, and then not being able to buy a bucket in Game Three, strong showings can come and go in the span of days.
Which is why the Celtics' regaining their consistency for Game Five will be instrumental in bringing Boston its 18th championship.
Going back to L.A. trailing 3-2 is not an option for Boston. The Lakers are too talented and have too much star power to drop two consecutive games at home.
Winning Game Four was critical for the Celtics, but they can't get complacent, and the veterans know it.
Garnett, Pierce, and Allen have all been to the NBA Finals before and know how hard it is to get there.
They will undoubtedly get their teammates in the right mindset to win Game Five, and head to L.A. with a 3-2 lead.
Now the question is whether they will be leading by example, or will they be content cheering on their fellow Celtics from the bench.