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While it wasn’t perfect, it’s the best we’ve seen the Celtics play so far this season. CSNNE’s Mike Gorman joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Tuesday
“This is what we thought the team could be. The bench outscored Chicago’s bench 27-18, all five starters scored in double digit, five guys scored off the bench. They played pretty good defense, but offensively they were very good all night long,” said Gorman. “Second game in three nights, on the road, that was a really good performance.”
However, the Bulls cut a double-digit Celtics lead to just two late in the fourth quarter. The Celtics held on, but Gorman says the defense will have to improve for the Celtics to make a deep playoff run.
“As well as the Celtics played offensively last night, the Celtics are only going to go as far as they go defensively,” he said. “If you look at the league numbers right now, they’re in the mid to low-20’s, and that’s not where they live. They should be in the Top 5 in the league. I think they’ll get there eventually.”
Jeff Green had another strong effort with seven points and five rebounds in his 15 minutes off the bench. A lot has been made about Green’s comeback from heart surgery just six months ago, but teammate Chris Wilcox is also making a comeback of his own.
Wilcox had an up-and-down game against Chicago, but finished strong with seven points and a pair of rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. Has he secured the Celtics’ backup center role? Gorman thinks so.
“I think he’s going to win that job because he fits Rondo’s game much better than Darko (Milicic) does,” said Gorman. “Chris is a runner; that is what his game is all about. We’ve seen him on the front end of fast-breaks and Rondo likes to play with him. I think the job is his; he played 19 minutes last night, the most off the bench.”
Gorman says the Celtics showed Wilcox a lot of support through his surgery — more than he could have imagined for just joining the team last December — and now Wilcox wants to repay the organization for it.
“He gets very emotional when you talk to him about it. He couldn’t believe how the Celtics stood by him during his surgery; not only the front office and management, but the players that he had played with for a very short period of time,” said Gorman. “He’s very intent of being a contributing member of this team and wants to do well.”
One player who hasn’t shaken his early-season struggles yet is guard Courtney Lee. He started the season as the C’s starting two-guard, but has lost that job to Jason Terry. Lee was a -17 during his 18 minutes on the floor in Chicago, but Gorman thinks it’s more of all the minutes that need to go around for a very crowded Celtics back court.
“I think it’s strictly a numbers game. The Celtics have five guards, four of them are two-guards — Avery Bradley, Leandro Barbosa, Lee, and Terry — which leaves Rondo playing the bulk of the minutes. I think Courtney is just kind of a victim of numbers,” he said. “I don’t think it’s anything specific that Courtney has done, it’s just four guys to divide up 48 minutes. When Avery Bradley comes back, they have some real issues in terms of a log-jam at the two-guard spot.”