The Boston Celtics have been exploited for their biggest Achilles heel on their star-studded roster early on seven games into the 2023-24 season: bench scoring production.
Consistency hasn’t been a repetitive theme off Boston’s bench, and aside from its 46-point performance against a lousy Indiana Pacers team, it hasn’t shown much. Payton Pritchard and company have struggled to provide the Celtics with an up-to-standard level of scoring production, proving the unit yet to be trustworthy of holding leads when the starters need rest.
That raised the question to Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla who was asked about Boston’s bench scoring before Friday night’s NBA In-Season Tournament contest with the Brooklyn Nets.
“Need? I don’t know. What I’d rather have is our role players being confident and understanding that they have to impact the game,” Mazzulla told reporters at TD Garden, per CLNS Media video. “Whether it’s by making threes or scoring in transition, getting to the free-throw line, offensive rebounding and playing defense. I don’t know if we need it, but what we need more is, like, the guys that are on the bench sort of coming into play, they gotta know that we need them to play well for us to win games.”
During the preseason, Pritchard took on the role of being the reserve unit leader, running the offense while also being leaned on to score from outside the perimeter. However, since entering the year ice-cold after signing a three-year, $30 million extension, Prichard’s struggles have taken a major toll on the bench production in total.
That’s an obvious blow to a Celtics starting unit that propelled the team to an undefeated 5-0 start in which they performed at an unmatched level in comparison to the rest of the league.
After departing from Malcolm Brogdon Grant Williams and Danilo Gallinari this past offseason, it’s slowly becoming clear that the front office might not be done. The organization already expressed its commitment to building the team capable of getting the job done, but it’s becoming evident that the unit behind head coach Joe Mazzulla’s starting five might not be complete.