Young Guns - Celtics Young Players Storming Onto The Scene

One of the themes of the 04-05 Celtics season has been the performance of the young players. From prep-to-pro phenom Al Jefferson to solid starter Jiri Welsch, each of the Celtics young players have contributed, proving the future of the Boston Celtics is bright. Below are the top 10 performances of the 'Young Guns' in the first two months of the season.

November 6, 2004 - Big Al Arrives In New York
We heard all summer about big man Al Jefferson averaging 42 points a game in high school, we heard about him not only holding his own, but actually outplaying #1 pick Dwight Howard in summer league. But after two games Jefferson had yet to show his stuff. All of that changed when the C's took an 0-2 record to New York, and the Celtics came alive with Jefferson showing the first glimpses that he not only belonged, but was ready to contribute. Big Al scored eight points, showing off a variety of post moves, and grabbed four boards in just 15 minutes of the Celtics 107-73 win over the Knicks.

November 12, 2004 - Banks Drives Celtics To Third Straight W
After a surprisingly tight first half (41-41) against the expansion Charlotte Bobcats the Celtics needed a big boost in the second half, and that's when second-year guard Marcus Banks stepped in. Although he played just eight second half minutes, Banks scored 11 of his 13 points and used his lightning speed to dart off screens for easy lay-ups, as the Celtics out scored the Bobcats 50-33 in the second half for a 91-74 victory. Banks also dished out four assists in the game.

November 19, 2004 - Jefferson Shows He Belongs Vs. Tim Duncan
Though the Celtics came up short against the San Antonio Spurs, Al Jefferson definitely had an impact on the game and on two-time MVP Tim Duncan. Jefferson scored 13 points, his first NBA double-digit effort, and grabbed six boards in what was then a career-high 23 minutes.

November 26, 2004 - West Shows His Stuff
After breaking his thumb in the preseason, Delonte West, the 24th overall selection in the 2004 NBA Draft, finally got to show what all of the talk was about when the Celtics hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Celtics eventually lost to Cleveland, 98-96, West helped orchestrate a second half comeback, scoring seven points and making many impressive passes on the fast break in just nine minutes of action. Every Celtic fan left the building finally understanding what all of the fuss is about.

November 28, 2004 - Allen Gets His Chance
After Al Jefferson and Delonte West had both put their marks on important games, it was Tony Allen's turn as he finally got an opportunity to play extended minutes. After Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat took an eight-point lead into the final frame, Doc Rivers decided to go with a small lineup. The rookie from Oklahoma State played all 12 fourth quarter minutes, scoring seven points, grabbing four boards and swiping two steals, as he made several acrobatic plays and held Wade to just two points in the quarter. Though the Celtics lost the game, 106-104, the C's out scored the Heat 27-21 with Allen leading the way in the final frame. Allen finished with a then career-high 14 points and six boards.

November 29, 2004 - Banks Answers The Bell
After recording his first DNP-CD at Miami, the Celtics were counting on Marcus Banks to answer the bell when Doc Rivers called his number the following night at Orlando. Banks more than responded, as the Celtics ran the Magic out of the building with Banks scoring a season-high 20 points off the bench, on 7-for-13 shooting from the field. Banks out-played perennial all-star Steve Francis, attacking the basket time after time as the Celtics scored 30 fast break points on their way to a 117-101 win.

December 6, 2004 - Welsch Drops In Career-High Against Former Club
Jiri Welsch showed his true potential when the Celtics visited Golden State during their first west coast road trip. Welsch, who played his rookie season with the Warriors before being traded to Dallas, exploded for a career-high 24 points as the Celtics lost a close game 110-106. Welsch shot 9-for-14 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, but he also showed off his ball handling skills, getting to the basket for several impressive drives that got him to the free throw line nine times.

December 11, 2004 - Allen Leads Small Ball Lineup To Win In Seattle
With the Celtics coming off three straight losses on their west coast trip, and trailing the 17-3 Seattle SuperSonics at the half, the team desperately needed a spark. That's when Doc Rivers once again called upon rookie Tony Allen and the small ball lineup. Allen led the Celtics with nine fourth quarter points, and provided a gravity-defying highlight as he slammed down a missed jumper from the right side of the lane. Allen also sparked the Celtics defense as the C's held the hot shooting Sonics to just 32.6 percent from the field. Allen finished with 12 points and six boards as the Celtics defeated Seattle, 98-84, to start a string of five wins in seven games.

December 13, 2004 - Trio Of Young Guns Help Pull Out Double OT Win
In one of the most dramatic games of the short season, a trio of young players played key roles in the Celtics' come from behind double-overtime win over the Clippers in Los Angeles. Though Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis combined for 67 points, the Celtics would not have won without the help of Tony Allen, Al Jefferson and Jiri Welsch. Allen once again played all 12 fourth quarter minutes as the Celtics erased an eight-point Clippers lead, while Al Jefferson contributed 11 points and eight boards overall, and Jiri Welsch knocked down a huge three in the second overtime. Overall, the trio combined for 33 points, 16 boards and four steals.

December 22, 2004 - Perk Attacks The Boards
After watching his teammates get their chance for the better part of a year and a half, second-year center Kendrick Perkins finally got an opportunity to show why the Celtics traded for the 6-10 big man directly out of high school. With the Celtics shorthanded on the inside because of an ankle injury to Raef LaFrentz, Perkins played a career-high 25 minutes and controlled both the defensive and offensive boards as the Celtics came from behind to defeat the Atlantic Division leading New York Knicks. Perkins played key defense as he entered the game with the Celtics down seven in the third quarter and exited in the fourth with the Celtics leading by 11. Perkins finished the game with 13 boards, including three offensive. Rookie Al Jefferson also contributed 12 points and five boards in his first career start.

Consistency may still be an issue with the Celtics 'Young Guns', but look for this list of impressive performances to grow as the Celtics young players get more comfortable. And as this list grows, so should the wins, as the excitement of six young players continues to mesh with the experience of players like Paul Pierce, Gary Payton, Ricky Davis, Raef LaFrentz and Mark Blount.

The future definitely looks bright as Al Jefferson, Tony Allen, Marcus Banks, Jiri Welsch, Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West continue to leave Celtics fans in awe with their contributions to a team on the rise.

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