The Celtics were in a bind, finding out shortly before their 100-75 win over the Nets that Rajon Rondo wouldn’t be available. Doc Rivers had planned on resting his starters, who had been logging long minutes. And even though the team was thin, he stuck to his plan, trusting the bench and being rewarded for it.
Glen Davis scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds off the bench and Marquis Daniels added 10 points, but the second unit changed what was a close game into a rout with their second-quarter defense, holding the Nets to 5 of 19 shooting and handing the game back over to the starters to pile the lead high.
“The second unit, in the second quarter, changed the whole game,” Rivers said. “They went five possessions and they couldn’t score, but the other team couldn’t score and it was really good for them to see that.
“You don’t have to score. If you keep getting stops eventually, the dam will break and you’ll start scoring and it happened for them. That’s a good thing for all those young guys.”
The Celtics have managed to go 3-1 without Rondo. They’ve won seven straight and will take the day off tomorrow.
Nate Robinson found out at shootaround that Rondo wouldn’t go, so he was more than prepared to step in.
He put up 21 points, going for 8 in the first quarter, looking more and more comfortable with the first team. “Doc is always just like, ‘Stay aggressive,’ ‘Be you,’” Robinson said.
For the season, Robinson is scoring 7.0 points a night, but in his four games as a starter he’s going for 17.8.
“It’s easier with the starters for him, because he’s not the focal point at all,” Rivers said. “Where with the second unit, they want to stop Nate because they know his offense is big for our second unit.
“With the starters, he’s the afterthought. There was twice where they were trapping him and they left Nate. He doesn’t get that a lot with the second unit.”
Bradley comes in, clamps down
Avery Bradley had played all of eight minutes coming in, but circumstances — from Rondo’s injury to the 32-point lead the Celtics piled up in the second half — allowed him to see more time than he has all season (15 minutes). He took advantage by flashing the defense that the Celtics have been praising him for since drafting him in June.
“Our teammates always tell me whenever [Rivers] calls your name, just be ready to play and that was my thing, just go out there and play hard,” Bradley said. “It was good to get a chance to go out there and kind of get a feel for the game and the speed. I still have a lot of things I have to work on so I can get used to it, but I definitely felt good. It’s like a step toward me getting used to it.”
He hounded Devin Harris and was the driving defensive force behind a second-quarter stalemate that all but took the fire out of New Jersey’s offense.
“Avery was unbelievable,” said Von Wafer. “He was the catalyst. He was getting in their guards, pressuring them. Nobody likes that. He was the catalyst for that whole run. And nobody wanted to let the other guy down and we just came together and played good defense.”