- Amin Elhassan, ESPN Staff Writer
While basketball conventional wisdom dictates starters should play the bulk of the minutes during the playoffs, bench production is pivotal. Teams with short rotations often do it out of necessity, because they lack the depth to be able to rely on their second units for extended periods of time.
The truth is, for teams that do have deep rosters, playing the bench for longer periods can be extremely beneficial; it buys rest for your starters, and it also builds the confidence of reserves, preparing them for the contingency scenario where they would have to step into a starting role.
The trust built between a coach and his reserves cannot be understated; most players maximize their abilities when they believe their coach believes in them. When I was in Phoenix, coach Alvin Gentry would often allow all-bench lineups to close games if they had the hot hand, most notably Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, when the Suns put the game away on an 18-3 run to even the series at 2-2. It is the only time I can remember the on-court national TV postgame interview being conducted with five players, all of them reserves.
Here's a look at which players I would put on my All-Bench team from the playoffs so far.
4dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann