Celtics Notebook: Bonus bench production, LeBron James’ praise, & Jayson Tatum vs. Jaylen Brown

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The Boston Celtics rode a four-game winning streak into the sunset of their first half. It was a much-needed lift for a team about to take a standing-eight count. 

One of the most encouraging parts of this run is how much of it was fueled by their bench, which averaged 38.5 points per game, a big boost from the 29 points they averaged when the Celtics dropped eight of 11 games over three weeks in February (good for fourth-worst in the NBA). 

The Celtics are still getting an overwhelming majority of their scoring from their starters, who average 79.2 points per game, but the recent bump in bench scoring has been a godsend for a team whose two main threats, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, are desperate for some time off.

“They're giving us a huge, huge lift,” Kemba Walker recently said. “And we need that, you know? Me and Jaylen and JT, and when (Marcus) Smart comes back, we're going to draw so much attention, and we need those guys to be themselves, be aggressive on both ends of the floor and just bring that energy, and that's what they've been doing.”

Grant Williams was one of those guys, scoring 17 points on 78% shooting against the Toronto Raptors one game after a DNP-coach’s decision. Williams has had a spotty season, mixing in gems like this with duds a 21 minute, zero point, -23 performance against the Atlanta Hawks. 

Williams, who admitted to not handling the mental challenges of this season well, acknowledges that bench players need to be ready for either big minutes, or no minutes.