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At home with the bench

06.15.10 at 9:51 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — The role of the bench may be the single biggest factor in home court advantage in this NBA finals series.

In Boston, Tony Allen, Glen Davis, Nate Robinson and Rasheed Wallace fed off the TD Garden crowd. It paid huge dividends in Games 4 and 5.

Both Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers have the luxury of having key players coming off their benches.

For the Celtics, everyone knows about the production of Davis, especially in wins in Games 4 and 5. Robinson was huge in Game 4 as well. Rasheed Wallace’s role took on a whole new meaning with an apparent right knee injury to starter Kendrick Perkins with 5:30 left in the first quarter Tuesday night.

For the Lakers, they have Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar.

Now with the series finishing in Los Angeles, the advantage has shifted by to the purple and gold.

At first glance, the Lakers domination in the first half of Game 6 seemed to render the bench moot. But upon a much closer look, the stat sheet revealed the Lakers got 15 points from their bench. The Celtics, a big goose egg. That 15-0 margin led to a 51-31 halftime Lakers cushion.

And with the Lakers building a 22-point lead, Jackson was afforded the luxury of not having to tax his starters, saving them for a Game 7.

“I think that the bench performance has to prove itself,” Jackson said prior to Game 6. “[They’ve] got to go out there. But in the same breath, benches play better on our home court than they do on the road. It’s like, okay, they certainly have to have a chance to play, and if they’re playing well, they’ll stay.”

Rivers admitted he has to be a little more careful with his bench at Staples Center.

“Well, you hope not, but you’re prepared to,” Rivers said of shortening the exposure of the bench on the road. “I think [Jackson] is right. I think role players tend to play better at home. I don’t think that’s anything new. We knew that.

“We do have a different cast of players with Rasheed being a veteran and Nate and Baby are so emotional they could possibly play well on the road. You just never know what you’re going to get from them. But that is true, you do prepare yourself to extend your starters’ minutes on the road. You always do.”

Read More: Bench, Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals
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