Brad Stevens has high praise for Rajon Rondo, but was benching his starters the right move?

You can't see Rondo in this picture, he's behind Turner sitting on the bench.

Last night the Celtics bench scored an all-time franchise-record 82 points.  But, it's not surprising considering that with the exception of Jeff Green, head coach Brad Stevens used almost exclusively his reserves for the final 27 minutes of the game.  Via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE, Stevens said:

Those guys deserved to play at the end. They got us right back in it. It was nothing against the guys that started. When you go from down 20 whatever we were, to right back in the game. Those guys deserved to play.

Rajon Rondo checked out of the game with 5:20 remaining in the third quarter and didn't come back.  Not in the 4th quarter, or either overtime (Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley made only brief cameo appearances over the last 27 minutes as well).  Stevens gave high praise to Rondo for the manner in which he handled the situation:

Give Rondo as much credit as anybody else on our team. Rondo's the loudest guy on the bench. Rondo's running out during time-outs. I give him a lot of credit for being that kind of guy because he doesn't have to be.

Marcus Smart and Evan Turner were the ball handles and primary decision makers down the stretch.  Smart had likely his best game as a Celtic, including a career-high 23 points.  However, he also missed a very unwise three-pointer that may have cost Boston a victory:

Turner hit a number of big shots, including the buzzer-beating three to send the game to overtime.  But he also made some questionable choices with the ball, including going into full-on hero mode and missing a long step-back jumper with the Celtics down one as time expired.

Meanwhile, the four-time All-Star point guard sat glued to the bench for 27 straight minutes.  Would the Celtics have won the game if Rondo had played in the overtimes?  Who knows.  But I wish I'd had the chance to find out.

Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan