Celtics’ bench depth fueling hopes

Jason Terry claims that the Celtics have “the deepest bench in basketball.” Does this call for a “Seventh Man” award?
Elise Amendola/associated press
Jason Terry claims that the Celtics have “the deepest bench in basketball.” Does this call for a “Seventh Man” award?

WALTHAM — The Celtics developed the concept of the “sixth man” in the 1960s, and the team has employed some of basketball’s best in that role. Now, with former Sixth Men of the Year Leandro Barbosa and Jason Terry on the Boston bench, there might be a call to recognize a “Seventh Man of the Year.”

Terry has set the tone for the Celtics reserves since arriving as a free agent, and Thursday he reiterated the second unit’s high aspirations.

“Adding Barbosa made a deep bench even deeper,” said Terry. “Not only are we deep, but we’re very explosive and we are going to look to outscore everyone’s bench this season, every time we step out on the floor.


“We have the deepest bench in basketball. The Clippers might have something to say about that, but it’s us in this locker room. Our mission every night is to go out and outwork and outscore every other bench.”

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Last season, Brandon Bass led the Celtics in offensive rebounding, establishing himself as a starter in the playoffs. The fact that he will be in a reserve role this year is a sign of the Celtics’ improvement.

“Barbosa’s a scorer also,” Terry said. “So now, you have two guys off the bench who are able to penetrate and not only create for themselves but create for other people. And that’s where we’re going to have our strength.

“When I came here, I knew this team was very deep and very versatile. At every position, guys can create off the dribble, and also spot up and shoot. So, with that comes a very difficult task for Doc [Rivers] to pick lineups and match guys together. It will be difficult for opponents to match up.

“A lot of teams you can get caught up, gear up, and load up for them. But with us, you don’t know who’s going to beat you with all the different lineups we can play.”


In Dallas, Terry was accustomed to being the first off the bench. Now, he might have to cede that role to Jeff Green.

“[Terry] is a presence out there,” said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. “He gives us a scoring threat off the bench we haven’t had since I’ve been a Celtic. He’s going to relieve a lot of pressure off myself and Kevin [Garnett].”

Rivers said the Celtics are taking advantage of having six practice days before the season-opening visit to Miami Tuesday.

“It would be tough to have this much time off and play a game,” Rivers said. “That would not be an easy thing. But I would rather have this for the season — for one game I would take having a game on Friday. But for the whole season, I would take this week.”

The Celtics worked for about three hours on half-court sets Wednesday, their first full practice in more than a week. The team went into a combination of full- and half-court workouts Thursday.


“We’re taking a lot of repetitions, going over everything every day, getting our stuff together so we master it,” Pierce said. “So we can be consistent in everything we do. We have a week to prepare, so try to go over stuff and keep going over it and going over it.

“We had a little inconsistency in preseason, and this is a good time to work on that.”

Green could be getting the equivalent of a starter’s playing time. In the preseason, he led the Celtics in field goal attempts (83) and blocked shots (8, tied with Darko Milicic) and was second in minutes and scoring, alternating between power forward and small forward.

“He’s been great, and he’s getting better every day,” Rivers said. “Our guys’ confidence in him has skyrocketed from [what is was] in the beginning. They didn’t know — I didn’t know — what to expect.

“He’s playing different positions, 99 percent of practice at the ‘3,’ then 99 percent of the practice at the ‘4,’ then 50-50, so he can get used to it. He’s a valuable player.”

.   .   .

Milicic continues to practice with his right wrist heavily taped. He missed three preseason games with a wrist strain but said he has recovered “100 percent” . . . Boston College hockey coach Jerry York attended practice Thursday.

Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at