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Why the Boston Celtics Don’t Need a Backup Point Guard

October 28th, 2012 at 6:14 PM
By Will Clark

There are certain buzz positions in the NBA that fans like to focus in on. The stars are obvious, but people who take their fandom seriously like to go beyond the surface. Backup center is big one, backup point guard is another. People have raved about the Boston Celtics' renewed depth this year thanks to a completely overhauled bench. However critics have been quick to point out that they don't have a true backup point guard. Luckily the Celtics do have a bevy of above average ball handlers, so the lack of a true backup point guard isn't going hurt them.

NBA pundits are constantly saying that teams "need a veteran backup point guard to come in and run the second unit." There is something to be said for having a veteran backup ball handler a-la Sam Cassell for the 2008 Celtics. However a backup point guard's primary responsibility isn't to run the offense, it is to get the ball up the floor when the starter is on the bench. One of the things opposing teams look for when the starting point guard comes out of the game is whether or not his replacement get the ball across half court. If he looks at all tentative or indecisive it is like sharks sensing blood in the water and the situation rapidly becomes untenable. However, while the C's don't have a pure point guard other than starter Rajon Rondo, they do have plenty of guys who can handle. No one is going to force Jason Terry into back court turnovers. Even at 34 he is still one of the better ball handlers in the league. Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley, and Leandro Barbosa are also all perfectly capable of getting the ball across half. The Celtics don't have a pure backup for Rondo, but they aren't going to have a problem getting across and getting into their offense.

Many fans are also worried that the Celtics second unit will struggle to initiate their offense. Terry, Lee and Bradley  are all at their best playing off the ball making cuts. But here is the thing; whoever said that the point guard has to run the offense? It is traditional, but it doesn't have to work that way. Mario Chalmers doesn't run offense in Miami, Lebron James does it. Similarly Jason Terry is not going to run the Celtics' second unit offense. It is going to run through Jeff Green.

That is reason number one why Celtics101 has been so excited about Green's strong play this preseason. The man is a human mismatch and it seems that Celtic coach Doc Rivers has finally figured out how to use him. Green has had the ball in his hands more often in this preseason than he did at any time during his previous stint with Boston. He's a player than often demands double teams, and he is actually awfully good at passing out of them and finding the open man. This frees up players like Terry, Lee and Bradley to sneak into the corner or cut to the basket. There are not a lot of guys in the league who can guard Jeff Green, particularly if he is going to be playing against other team's second units. As long as the Celtics can get the ball across half, which they shouldn't have trouble doing with all those ball handlers, their bench offense will be fine running through Green.

Tags: Basketball, Boston, Boston Celtics, Jason Terry, Jeff Green, NBA

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