While the Celtics' starting five are enjoying the acclaim that comes with a six-game ousting of the Cavaliers in the semifinals and a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals over the Orlando Magic, they're also giving credit to the guys behind them on the depth chart.
The Celtics' bench stars all have one thing in common — championship pedigree. Tony Allen and Glen Davis were at the end of the Celtics' bench in 2008, when the team won a championship. Rasheed Wallace started for the Finals-winning Pistons in 2004; Michael Finley started for the Spurs in 2007 when they won it all.
All of the Celtics' bench role players now have a chance to win a second title. And they're all doing their respective parts.
"They've been huge," Kendrick Perkins said. "I think Tony has been huge. Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Michael Finley. I think everybody has been huge off the bench for us. They've been coming in and giving us some great minutes."
The team's bench has evolved over the course of the postseason. As the Celtics played their final regular-season games in March and April, they had a deeper rotation of 10, 11, sometimes even all 12 guys on the active roster seeing plentiful minutes. Not the case in the postseason — appearances from Shelden Williams, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels have been few and far between.
"We've clearly shortened our bench," coach Doc Rivers said. "But when they're in, they've done a great job. We've even been able to throw Shelden into one game, and he was terrific. We just harp on everybody being ready because you never know, with foul trouble or injuries. I tell Nate and Marquis every day, there's going to be a point at some point in this playoffs that they're going to make a contribution. They have to stay ready. I think our whole bench has that attitude of staying ready."
Everyone on this team understands the importance of the bench guys come playoff time. The Celtics won in 2008 in part because James Posey, P.J. Brown and Leon Powe were unsung heroes playing big minutes. This year, it's different guys — and a lot of them are young and unpredictable. Rivers is taking the bad with the good.
"The only way you're going to win is somebody on the bench has to play well," the coach said. "And it's going to have to be multiple people. And we're getting that, but you know, we don't know which guy it's going to be every night. I wish I could control that and just say, 'It's your night.' But we don't have that luxury. That's maybe what's the most different from 2008. They were pretty consistent, that group. You pretty much could write down what Posey was going to do, and P.J., and that group. This year, you don't know. That makes it more challenging."