Improved Bench Gives Celtics New Depth

WALTHAM - When Paul Pierce wasn't on the floor last year, he was incredibly conspicuous by his absence. That shouldn't be the case this season.

James Posey

James Posey threads a pass between three defenders during practice.
Peter Stringer /

While three guys in the starting lineup are getting most of the attention during training camp (you know who), the Celtics' bench got an overhaul as well this summer. Now when Doc Rivers makes his substitutions, he should have a better idea of what to expect from the guys he's sending into the game.

Two key offseason acquisitions, Eddie House and James Posey, were brought in with very specific roles in mind. House is an electric scorer, a "microwave" of sorts, while Posey is a hard-nosed defender who also happens to have some hardware - an NBA Championship ring - in his jewelry box.

"He has a ring under his belt and has been through the wars. He's a guy you can definitely rely on," Pierce said of Posey. "He can guard multiple positions on the court, so he's going to be very valuable for this ball club for his versatility on offense and defense."

Kevin Garnett also likes what he sees in the second unit.

"I know E-House has a torch, he can shoot it with the best of them, and Posey is a defensive presence," Garnett said. "We have a good team, not just the three of us, but all around."

Together with Tony Allen, Scot Pollard and Brian Scalabrine, House and Posey comprise the core of a Celtics bench is decidedly more experienced than it's been in past seasons. The drop-off around the five-minutes remaining in the first quarter mark (when reserves typically start checking in to an NBA game) shouldn't be quite as pronounced as it's been in recent seasons.

That said, there are still a few issues to shake out.

"I know what we'd like [from the bench], but I don't know if we can expect it every night," Rivers said. "I like our bench for the most part. I'm pretty comfortable with who's going to be out on the floor and what we're going to try to do."

Rivers has talked about the fact that veterans typically are more willing to accept very specific roles on a team, while younger players have more interest in proving who they are and what they can do. But the backup point guard role may be a question mark heading into the season.

If preseason rotations are to be believed, it appears that House and Allen will spend the bulk of the time playing the point, with rookie Gabe Pruitt likely holding down a seat toward the press table, at least to start. House has played some point at times during the preseason, but when Allen took the floor, House typically assumed shooting guard duties while Allen played point.

But while neither House nor Allen is considered a "natural" point guard, Rivers isn't concerned about any deficiency, perceived or otherwise, at the backup point guard spot.

"Between Tony and Eddie, they're going to be fine. We'll make it work," Rivers said. "I don't have a point guard oriented offense. Literally, their job is to get the offense started, not to run the offense, and that's the big difference."

They'll also have some help from at least one of the Celtics' top three guys at all times.

"Two or one of the three will always be on the floor for the most part. Preseason is preseason and I'm not going to have all three of them sitting on the bench very often," Rivers said. "If they are, either we're getting our [butt] kicked, or we're kicking someone else's. Other than that, one of the three [will be on the floor]."

Peter Stringer covers the team for You can send him .

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