The bench wasn't nearly as active as Flip Saunders had hoped it would be during the club's three-game swing out West, but part of that was because the team played two games in front of a national audience. Flip Saunders explains:
"Sometimes you get into situations," Saunders said. "When you have games on TNT or ESPN (three of the first six) where you get four-minute timeouts. It's like playoff games. That's why you see teams playing only seven or eight guys in the playoffs. You have so much more rest built into the games."
Expect the bench to be more active in the next few games, starting with Tuesday's home game against the Celtics:
First of all, Saunders noticed that Ben Wallace was especially fatigued playing in Portland on the back end of back-to-back games. Saunders' plan for Tuesday is to bring Milicic in early, in the first quarter, to give Wallace a few extra minutes of rest.
"Darko's going to get back in there," Saunders said. "He had some bad matchup situations (against Phoenix and Portland)."
Saunders said Milicic has remained diligent and productive in practice, so there was nothing punitive about his lack of playing.
"No, he's been good," Saunders said. "It's just how the games have gone. We need to get Ben some rest. He was really tired in Portland. So, we will get Darko in a little earlier."
Secondly, Delfino continues to impress in his short stints, and is gaining on Evans for that eighth spot in the rotation.
"Carlos is a guy we can put on bigger (shooting guards or small forwards)," Saunders said.
"He has been effective there, and he puts some pressure on them at the other end. He had a good road trip."
I've been impressed with Evans so far, but I think Delfino has a better touch shooting the ball and is surprisingly effective getting up around the rim. Defense will be key, and right now Delfino apparently has the edge in that department, too.
Saunders: Bench players deserve game time [Detroit News]