The Boston Celtics have been rolling over the last two weeks, and have a 12-3 record to show for it. For that, you can thank their bench.
Boston’s superstars — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — have deservedly received most of the credit for their hot start, but it’s the Celtics’ depth that has taken them over the top and helped them secure the NBA’s best record through three weeks of play. On any given night Boston has received contributions from one of the many bench pieces it has obtained in preparation for another NBA Finals run. Wednesday night, however, was especially indicative of the Celtics’ bench dominance.
Boston’s bench finished with a plus-40 rating, with Payton Pritchard (14), Luke Kornet (15) and Sam Hauser (15) combining to score 44 points on 17-for-21 shooting, including an absurd 10-for-13 from 3-point range in a 126-101 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Hauser now leads the NBA at plus-121.
Looking like anything but a murderer’s row on paper, that trio has been nails throughout the last week as the Celtics deal with injuries to key contributors.
“It gets a little fire going in your body,” Hauser said, per video provided by NBC Sports Boston. “Wanting to get better. Wanting to work hard in the offseason. And wanting to show, and prove yourself out there. I think — even Payton (Pritchard) too. He was a part of the rotation last year and he’s been playing really really well these last few games that he’s gotten the opportunity. I think everyone is kind of taking it personally a little bit, and it’s definitely showing out there.
“We’ve got a really good team and we’re really deep. We’ve got a lot of guys coming off the bench who can really play.”
Derrick White, who started Wednesday with Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon sitting out with injury, was the player who best exemplified the Celtics’ depth. White finished with 16 points, 10 assists and five rebounds, taking control of the offense on a night where Brown and Tatum weren’t their best selves.
“We got a lot of guys that can do a lot of things. That’s a credit to the depth we have,” White said, per NBC Sports Boston’s broadcast.
The Celtics will return to the court Friday night when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off from Smoothie King Center is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.