Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
But that’s easier said than done when you consider Boston’s Big Three perimeter defenders – Smart, Bradley and Jae Crowder – have only suited up for the same game 14 times this season, while logging a total of 86 minutes together.
And remember, a number of those games involved either Bradley or Smart coming back from an injury, which meant limited minutes at first and thus limiting the potential impact they could make collectively.
Yesterday, during his weekly Toucher and Rich appearance, Danny Ainge mentioned that he was proud of his team’s defensive chops, noting that ‘we have a 5′-9″ starting point guard and no shot blockers and no rim protection to speak of.’
Sherrod Blakely adds to that by observing that the C’s are still (after that 4 game swoon) holding down the number three rating in the NBA, despite their three best defenders logging almost no time together so far this season.
If Crowder can keep his offensive groove going and Avery Bradley can get his back, then that perimeter trio’s defense won’t necessarily be accompanied by woes on the offensive end. We’re all still waiting to find out what Smart can do on offense, right now, coming back from injuries, he–to put it mildly–has been ineffective at that end of the court.
Still, the C’s are a defense first team, and it should be interesting to see what happens with everybody back and healthy (assuming they stay healthy).
Page 2: Big success from small ball?
Veterans aren’t going to be happy watching from the sidelines, but Stevens has given all of those guys plenty of chances to show they deserve regular minutes. With the Celtics struggling to stay in the mix in a crowded Eastern Conference playoff picture, it’s become evident that more traditional lineups weren’t working for Stevens despite the team’s roster construction.
The head coach can no longer worry about appeasing those bigs. He needs to go with whatever gives his team the best chance of success. It’s a choice that veterans like Johnson understand.
“Whatever gets us the win,” Johnson said of the move to more small-ball lineups. “Smalls, bigs, whatever lineup it is, it’s fine for me as long as we win games.”
Brian Robb with the accurate assessment of distributing minutes among Boston’s thirty or so front-court players. It has generally been unsuccessful.
I don’t think the Celtics are good enough to go small all the time. I think there are a number of teams and occasions where they will need to deviate from that small-ball lineup, and, in fact, one of Brad Stevens’ hallmarks is that he doesn’t force players into some predetermined scheme. He’s adaptable. Still, it may be time to give the small lineup a bit more run so that the Celtics can do a bit more running…
Finally: Is Jeff Green wearing out his welcome with the Celtics West?
From longtime Grizzlies beat writer Ron Tillery on his podcast:
“I was told, point blank, by a guy in that locker room who matters that Jeff doesn’t care.”
‘And I know of a guy who matters in that locker room that wanted to wring his neck last night” after Green was benched following a 0-for-2 shooting, zero-rebound first-half performance Tuesday night in a loss to the Houston Rockets.
First of all, have you stopped to consider how many ex-Celtics are on the Grizz roster? Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Tony Allen, Brandan Wright.
Anyway, apparently the questions of commitment that dogged Jeff Green in Boston haven’t gone away in Memphis. Jeff Green is a guy who, when the Celtics acquired him from OKC was considered by some to be a better prospect than James Harden.
By all accounts, he’s a decent guy off the court, and he’s someone who absolutely could have died on the court at any point in time before his surgery, so I’m somewhat inclined to cut him some slack here–if not for his salary. Point being, he’s paid to play the game at a high level, and if that commitment isn’t there, then the money really shouldn’t be there either.