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Sam Hauser has earned an important role off the Celtics bench

BOSTON -- There is one particular train at North Station that is running really low on space. You'd be lucky to find standing room on the Sam Hauser Hype Train at the moment.

That train is shoulder-to-shoulder after the second-year Celtics forward had another fantastic preseason game on Wednesday night. Hauser was draining just about every shot he took for the second straight exhibition tilt, hitting five of his eight threes in Boston's overtime loss to Toronto. His 22-point outburst was a nice follow-up to his 14-point night in the preseason opener against Charlotte.

Through two preseason games, Hauser has gone 9-for-13 from downtown. The Celtics gave him a three-year extension over the summer, and then expressed confidence that he could be the team's three-man off the bench after Danilo Gallinari was lost for the season with a torn ACL.

The 24-year-old has rewarded that faith thus far, and has fully earned his spot in the Boston rotation for the regular season.

"You never want to see one of your teammates go down like that, but it's a next man up mentality," Hauser said after Wednesday night's game. "Them showing confidence in me gives me confidence, to show what I can do the best to help these guys win, and get back to where we were last year."  

Last year, Hauser was part of the bench mob that celebrated just about every bucket the Celtics made during the team's run to the NBA Finals. But he took very few meaningful shots in his rookie season, appearing in just 26 games for Boston while he spent most of his time in Maine.

That's not to say he didn't hit shots. He hit 19 of his 44 threes as a Boston Celtic last season, and 39 of his 90 as a Maine Celtic. In both spots, he hit 43 percent of his attempts from downtown.

The Celtics are going to need that off the bench this season. He has believers in the Boston brass, but they aren't the only ones impressed with Hauser's shooting. 

Jayson Tatum is on the Hauser train as well. The Celtics superstar had some fun when asked if Hauser was a better shooter than him, with Tatum throwing down a hysterical "hell no!" in response. After explaining that Hauser is only open because all the defensive attention is going his way, Tatum gave the sharpshooter plenty of love.

"Sam is obviously a great shooter and his game has come a long way. I'm happy for him," said Tatum. "I'm happy he's getting an opportunity and he's obviously making the most out of it. And we're going to need him. He's going to play a role for the team this year."

Interim head coach Joe Mazzulla coached Hauser on the Summer League Celtics last year, and credits his strong work ethic for the advances in his game.

"He works really hard, does a great job of playing off others, and takes what the defense gives him," said Mazzula, who has urged Hauser to be aggressive with his shot when open.

Hauser has an incredibly high arc on his shot, and it's been that way since he was a kid. Knowing that he would have a chance to take advantage of defensive mismatches and switches when he shares the court with Boston's stars, he's put in a lot of work on his off-ball movement. He also made strides to get his shot off quicker. 

"I made daily deposits in that aspect and it's showing," he said. "But it's only been two games, so I have to keep doing what I'm doing."

Having a solid three-point shot will only get you so far, so Hauser is also finding ways to expand his arsenal. We saw that Wednesday nice when he had a nice driving layup for a three-point play late in the fourth quarter, one of his three buckets in the paint against the Raptors.

 "I think it's a good counterpunch to them closing out so hard after I've made a couple. It shows I can do something else and they have to show respect to something other than my shooting," he said. "That is not what I'm really asked to do, it's more of an in-the-moment type thing."

Hauser should get plenty of moments off the bench this season, especially if his rapport with fellow UVA alum Malcolm Brogdon continues. Brogdon is set to be the C's leader off the pine, and he had no problem finding an open Hauser on Wednesday, assisting on four of his five threes. 

"I know when I'm playing with him just to stay ready, because he knows where I'm at on the floor at all times," Hauser said of Brogdon. "He's easy to play with, he's a playmaker and gets others open. It's fun playing with him."  

After spending the postseason as cheerleader on the bench, Hauser is now in line for a much bigger role on Boston's bench mod. He's certainly earned his shot, and should be a big key piece to the Celtics' second unit in the upcoming season.

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