The Celtics entered the season expecting their bench to be a strength. Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Keyon Dooling and Marquis Daniels figured to be just the right amount of veteran leadship and young athleticism.
Before the first game was even played, Green was lost for the season with an aortic aneurysm. Then Daniels seemed to lose his explosiveness and Dooling got hurt. If not for the emergence of Avery Bradley and the late signing of Mickael Pietrus, the Celtics could have had some serious problems whenever their starters left the court.
Another key bench player, center/forward Chris Wilcox, is also sidelined for the remainder of the season and starting center Jermaine O'Neal is not expected to return either. The lack of depth in the frontcourt has led the Celtics to lean heavily on Bass and Greg Stiemsma alongside Kevin Garnett, and all those minutes finally began to take a toll Friday.
If the Celtics are to stay in contention, they will need their unheralded reserves to come through. Which one has risen to the cream of the crop?