Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Even though the Celtics have won three straight games, the effects of all the ailments can be seen in the second unit. In the win over Toronto, the starters quickly piled up a double-digit lead, but a depleted second team gave it back in the second quarter. When the starters stretched the lead back in the second half, the second unit let the Raptors chip away again.
“It’s unfair, but let’s be unfair for a second,’’ Rivers said. “The first and third quarter, they scored 35 points on our starters. And you can make that case, especially in the third quarter because they played the whole third quarter. The other two quarters were 32 and 34, and that’s our second unit. So that was the only thing I talked about after the game.’’
Similar to last year, injuries have forced players to take on different roles. A year ago, Tony Allen went from second-team defensive stopper to spot-starting for Rondo. This season, Nate Robinson has gone back and forth from starting to backup point guard. Rivers went in with the idea of using Jermaine O’Neal as his starting center, but O’Neal started only the five games that Shaquille O’Neal missed because of his own knee injury.
With two of the top 10 rotation guys out (Delonte West, Jermaine O'Neal – we won't count Perk until February), it's not surprising to see bench productivity waning. The problem is… when the productivity of the second unit decreases, Doc is forced to increase the minutes of his starters. Something no one wants to see (especially John).
Delonte's versatility was going to allow Doc to reduce the minutes of both Rondo and Ray Allen – two guys averaging more than 40 mpg. Now he'll have to lean on Von Wafer and Avery Bradley, in spots. We also hope Jermaine O'Neal returns before Semih Erden's shoulder falls apart.
While the situation isn't dire, it's clearly not desirable.
On Page 2, the controversial bump between LeBron James and Erik Spoelstra.
Did a frustrated LeBron James go out of his way to bump Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra during the Heat's loss to Dallas Mavericks Saturday night?
Or did a ticked-off Spoelstra deliberately try to walk through the King — sending a message both to his unhappy superstar and disappointing 9-8 team?
The third quarter incident happens after another defensive breakdown by the Heat. Spoelstra comes on to the court. James walks toward the bench. Neither man tries to avoid the other. They bump. Hard.
Maybe it's a deliberate push by one, the other, or both. Or maybe they're both so frustrated they're not paying attention. Either way, the Heat called a players-only meeting after the loss.
All together now… Bahahahahahahaha!
The rest of the links:
Herald – Cs strength is inside | ESPN Boston – Avery Bradley keeps positive attitude | Taunton Gazette – Shaq has been entertaining and effective | Globe – Aiming to comfort sick kids, Boston pros make rounds |