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Celtics' bench players settling in

WALTHAM, Mass. -- With a regular season that practically has been defined by injuries and lineup adjustments winding down, the Boston Celtics received one of their first doses of regularity in Sunday's 107-96 victory over the Washington Wizards, as their preferred starting five of Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett finally was on the floor together.

The Celtics are hoping for something of a trickle-down effect with that stability, as having the first five solidified should help cement the roles of the reserves. Boston's bench looks almost nothing like it did at the beginning of the campaign, with season-ending injuries to Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, the trade for Jordan Crawford, and the acquisitions of Shavlik Randolph and Terrence Williams drastically altering its makeup.

With the newest faces potentially taking on key roles come playoff time, coach Doc Rivers knows he still has a few things to work out before the end of the season.

"I think it helps [the bench] as well," Rivers said Tuesday of having his revised starting five intact. "There's still some moving parts, fortunately or unfortunately for us right now, on our bench but I like our unit."

"I think with the move, you're going to have guys knowing what's expected of them, knowing their definite role and how much time they're going to get," Pierce said. "So that definitely can improve on a lot of consistency, especially in these last few games going into the playoffs."

Despite the rash of injuries Boston has endured this season, Rivers still has a number of weapons at his disposal. Despite an up-and-down first season in Boston, Jason Terry has been preaching playoffs throughout, so his confidence is expected to be as high as ever. Alongside Terry are Terrence Williams, Jordan Crawford -- the top candidate for "Celtic most likely to win a playoff game with a 40-foot fadeaway 3-pointer" -- and Courtney Lee, who has shuffled in and out of the starting lineup all season.

Add in Randolph and Chris Wilcox up front, and Rivers has to at least be content with his options (although he'd surely prefer to have Sullinger's rebounding presence). The fact that Rivers has this many tools at his disposal actually is quite impressive. Few would have thought when the Celtics signed Williams or Randolph that they might crack the playoff rotation. But Rivers has gotten the best out of the new faces.

"I think Doc's done an unbelievable job of taking new players and incorporating them in a detail-oriented system in such a short period of time," Randolph said. "It's been pretty impressive. But I think we're getting to know each other better."

Rivers' next task is picking the appropriate players for battle. He's expected to shorten his rotation, with only eight or nine guys playing meaningful minutes.

"When you say bench in the playoffs, you don't mean five guys," Rivers said. "You mean three guys, maybe four, with one of Paul, Kevin or Jeff will, most likely, always be on the floor."

Aside from the starters, Terry is pretty much the only lock for postseason floor time. Rivers made it known on Tuesday that spots aren't guaranteed, even for the likes of Lee, who's still finding his rhythm following a recent left ankle sprain.

"It would be nice [to get Lee going]," Rivers said. "But, you know, Terrence is playing well, Jordan is playing well. So they all know all of them aren't going to play, but some of them are going to play."

Rivers isn't seeking heroics out of his reserves as much as he's hoping for consistency. It's not so much about who will come in and contribute 30 additional points as it is who will come in, execute his role and not turn the ball over.

Terry will be counted on in crunch time, sure, and Crawford might have a home run game similar to the kind Eddie House and Nate Robinson had in past seasons. But the brunt of the playoff production will fall on the shoulders of the starters. Rivers just needs reliable support behind them.

"Just coming in there and just playing with energy when we come in," Randolph said of what the bench players can contribute. "That's the main thing. I know specifically what my role is when I get in there. It's to set good screens, it's to rebound, just try to play as good of defense as possible. But I think the key with the second unit is just to keep up that energy from the starting unit."

Greg Payne contributes to ESPNBoston.com's Celtics coverage.