The Celtics may not have a set starting lineup this season | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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The Celtics may not have a set starting lineup this season

I have a go-to stat from last season when I talk about this team:

The Boston Celtics were 24-10 since the All Star break last year.

That run largely featured a starting line up of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

I like those starters.  I like the way they work together.  I like bigs who spread the floor, a slasher who can take advantage of space, a wild card who finds opens spaces, and a point guard who ties it all together.

But Doc Rivers clearly has a different idea about this upcoming season.  With guys like Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger, and even Darko Milicic providing different dimensions to this team, Doc is hinting that some of those guys could occasionally find their way into the starting line up.

Of course, he says that now, on October 10th.

Who knows what Doc is really saying here.  He could be really saying what he’s saying, letting us all know that, depending on the match-ups, some guys who normally start games on the bench will get into the starting rotation.  Maybe a jump-shooting big like Brandon Bass could help create more space on the second unit for guys like Terry and Lee, thus easing the “create off the dribble” burden on a unit without a true point guard.


He could be pushing some guys to work harder.  It’s not unheard of for a coach to use the fear of lost minutes on some guys… or dangle the carrot of more minutes to others.  It’s hard to say right now.  These guys are just coming off a quick trip abroad where they played non-NBA talent.  It’s possible some guys were tired, complacent, or both.

It’s impossible to say what the end result will be here.  My guess is that Doc won’t tinker TOO much with the starting lineup because he knows damn well that athletes thrive on consistency.  These guys have routines that help them get ready to perform at peak levels.  Messing with that is not often a good strategy.

But they’re also professionals.  And what harm is there if  Bass or Bradley go to the bench for 10 games in a 72 game season?  Is it really THAT horrible?

We’ll see how it plays out this season.  My money is on this being little more than a pre-season flash-point for blog and Twitter discussion.

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  • Celticsfanatic

    82 game season*

    Good article. I personally think by midseason Bradley will retake his spot from Courtney Lee. Sullinger, based on how well he looked with KG and Rondo and how cohesive the Bass-Jeff Green Tandem looked, could swap spots with Brandon Bass in the starting lineup by midseason and I think Doc is already starting to seriously contemplate such a transformation. After say the All-Star break, I feel our starting lineup shouldn’t waver much from RR-AB-PP-Sully-KG. That gives us a very athletic bench in Lee/JG/Bass, a playmaker in Terry who will thrive with the shooting of those three as well as possibly the athleticism of Wilcox or the bone-jarring screens of Darko. More than anything, I think the BENCH will be tinkered with greatly this season as we have so many weapons. With teams like the Lakers you could see guys like Darko, Collins, and/or maybe even Fab play way more than Wilcox when Dwight is in. However when Jordan Hill is in, Wilcox is the perfect match-up. Hell, you could even Darko or Collins slide into a starting spot if Doc is concerned about Dwight/Pau running over Garnett/Sully. Against teams like the Heat/OKC, I have no doubt Wilcox and to some extent Darko will get the majority of the reserve center minutes when healthy.

  • Isaac

    I don’t think Doc has ever had so many starting lineup worthy guys on a team. The Celtics have 9-11 (Wilcox and Darko are the question marks) guys who would all be starters if they were on a different team.

  • Wels Catfish

    I understand playing Sullinger instead of Bass, since KG and Bass are redundant in so much as they’re both able to stretch the floor with their jump-shooting. It makes sense that Doc would want to allow Bass to play that role with the second unit, while letting Sullinger bang down low with the starters, with KG demanding the coverage of the taller bigs.

    However, I worry that this will significantly reduce the amount of time KG plays in the post. I like KG’s long two-pointer, it’s one of the most efficient in the game, but I really like his post game too, and I think his ability to just get off shots down there helps us. We saw in the playoffs how the synergy between Rondo and a posted KG is able to wreck an interior defense–no one else will give us that offensive presence down low.

    Defense I’m less worried about. This team has proven it has championship defense. Consistent offense is what we need now.

  • LA Flake

    I don’t need no stinkin’ stats to tell me that Brandon Bass has the WORST post game in the history of the C’s. Not to mention his really, really loooooooow basketball IQ.

    Start Green at the 4. Or Sully. Hell, start Wilcox over Bass when he comes back.

  • Richard

    The celtics are deep enough that Doc can mix and match this gives the Celtics a big edge and opponents trouble because they don’t know who to plan for or match up with. Good….. advantage CELTICS !!!!!!!

  • Richard

    This is ggod when Avery bradley comes back the celtics will be that much better as well as deeper. This gives Doc the advantage to mix and match depending on who the C’s are playing. A big advantage for the Celtics.

  • Roy Boy

    Don’t fix what ain’t broke. Don’t get too happy, because Sullinger and Darko showed glimpse of promise.

  • paul

    For God’s sake, this is not so hard to understand. This team is really nine guys plus Rondo.

  • Kricky

    Isn’t this all about resting the starters (particularly PP and KG) so that they are fresh for the playoffs?

    Once playoff time rolls around we’ll see the same old starting 5.

  • vivek NJ

    i can see doc like birdman sitting flanked by bundles of benjamins with all the jewellery. he has lot this time and that is good.

  • anthony

    How about a Bass and Lee combo trade to ATL for Josh Smith?

  • Classless

    I agree with some of the Bass comments. He’s a poor rebounder and i think him and Sully will be splitting time evenly as the season wears on. Honestly, the C’s have been dying for a guy like Sully to beast on the boards. Bass is incapable of that.

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  • JimmyG

    I wouldn’t mind if Doc adapted the San Antonio technique of benching the starters for random games in order to provide rest. It’s frustrating to watch but I’d rather watch an energized playoffs team and honestly, does anyone think that the seeding in the playoffs will make a difference to this team if benching the starters cost us a couple of wins? I know some people will point to the 76ers series and say we could have lost that game if it were in Philly or point to game 7 in Miami but I think the series with Philly only went 7 because the Celtics were uninspired. As for Miami, maybe if we gave KG, PP, etc. some rest it would have made the difference in the post season. Bass has a reliable jump shot but the complaints about his rebounding are valid and while the C’s are a top three team for assists/passing in the NBA, Bass shoots just about every time he gets a touch. If he’s making shots I don’t care, but he disappeared in the playoffs last year and that’s just about all he offers.

  • Drew

    I really like Bass and fully expect him to have a career year. How am I the only one that sees that coming? And why are people ready to shove him aside and make room for Sully? Fuck you.

    • kg215

      Bass is a solid player, but Sully is bigger/more versatile and has a lot more upside. Bass has one of the best midrange shots of any bigman, it is a great weapon. Sullinger’s shot is only decent, but he has potential to be a better rebounder, post scorer, and defender. Sullinger also has better basketball IQ, though he still needs to learn a lot of things as a rookie. Bass has some upside left in him too, but not that much. Also Bass coming off the bench could help the team out a lot, our bench had a lot of trouble helping out on offense last season.

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