Rivers Plans To Mix And Match

 

BROOKLYN – In the first three seasons of the KG era, the Boston Celtics’ starting lineup was constant.

Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. That’s what you expected to see when you arrived at the arena or turned on your TV to watch the Celtics, and that’s what you got. Over those three seasons, that group started 214 of a possible 304 games and played 4,172 minutes together, which was 1,709 more than any other lineup around the league over that time. And they were very, very good.

Most used lineups, 2007-08 through 2009-10, including postseason

Team Lineup GP MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
BOS Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, Perkins 214 4,172 109.2 95.5 +13.7 +1,063
ATL Bibby, Johnson, Williams, Smith, Horford 161 2,463 105.1 104.7 +0.4 +5
OKC Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Krstic 99 1,674 102.5 105.8 -3.3 -86
UTA Williams, Brewer, Kirilenko, Boozer, Okur 109 1,615 109.9 106.7 +3.2 +100
NOH Paul, Peterson, Stojakovic, West, Chandler 83 1,548 112.9 102.5 +10.4 +325

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Then Perkins blew out his knee and was eventually traded. Over the last two seasons, the Celtics’ starting lineup wasn’t nearly as consistent, with Glen Davis, Nenad Krstic, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Brandon Bass taking turns as the other big man next to Garnett. And after Bass finally became the starting power forward in the second half of last season, Avery Bradley replaced Allen at the two.

This season, there could be even more flux in the Celtics’ lineup. First of all, Bradley is out to start the season, still recovering from shoulder surgery. But beyond that, it may just be that Doc Rivers decides to mix and match.

Three starters are set in stone. They are, of course, Rondo, Pierce and Garnett. After that, Rivers isn’t sure which way he’s going to go.

Rivers used five different starting lineups in the Celtics’ first five preseason games, but has started Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger in each of the last two. The coach likes the rookie with the starting group, having previously said that he wants to play Sullinger mostly at the four.

“I don’t know if that’s the way I’m going to go, but I do like that,” Rivers said after Thursday’s win in Brooklyn. “And I like Brandon with the second unit, because it gives us another scorer, a guy who can play.

“Having said that, I don’t know what type of team we have. I’m not sure we’ll have a set lineup this year. I think there will be nights where they have a quick four that we start Brandon. Then there will be nights where they don’t and you start Sullinger. There may be nights when we start Paul and Jeff [Green] at the two and the three. I hope we don’t we have to do that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the way we went.”

Having options is a lot better than the alternative, which is the position the Celtics were in last season. And they seemingly got deeper with the addition of Leandro Barbosa on Thursday, though Rivers says he doesn’t know what kind of shape Barbosa is in.

“We don’t have a back-up point, but we have another ballhandler,” Rivers said. “Our theory is if we throw three ballhandlers out on the floor, someone can bring the ball up. And that’s the way we’ll play with our second unit.”

If everyone stays healthy, the Celtics should be a fascinating statistical study this season, in regard to the quantity and quality of their different lineups.

“My guess is what will happen this year is if we have six combinations that we think right now, three of them will be really good,” Rivers said. “And then the other three will not be as good as we want them to be, because all the combinations aren’t going to work.”

18 Comments

  1. men move on christmas is already been waived

  2. bu says:

    Yes, defense is the key, as this group must hv much better fire power than last yr. The new additions to the team, esp Green are not defensive proven. If you look at how they defended the pick & rolls & help defense it showed they still need to work on it.

  3. wuffe says:

    By all means defensively and youthwise they have improved. Of all these new faces, who is going to score? Scoring is not AJ green or Cortney or Sulenger’s forte. They are all around players and thats it. If you had a crystal ball Perry Jones III would be the pick to have gone with. OKC got the steal of the draft. Ofcourse Pierce and and Garnet.. but you want to bring more scorers in. OKC will give you troubles. Not so sure about Lakers. I hope you beat the Heat no that you have some young legs.

  4. edg2t says:

    i believe coach rivers is on the right track if he’s planning to mix and match BUT it has to depend on the opponent the Celtics will be facing on that particular game. know your enemy and position your pieces accordingly. i can feel it it in my bones that this year we are going to win another championship. GO CELTICS!

  5. CelticsPride says:

    I really like the celtics team this year as long as Rondo can continue to come up big and Jeff Green is not a bust, I don’t think there is a team that can beat us in a 7 game series

  6. Shawn says:

    Like someone said before, my biggest concern is rebounding. In the preseason so far, I wasn’t too impressed with the boxing out and getting rebounds. Increase rebounding by even an average of 5-7 from last season, same top notch defense, and better offense…I see the Celtics putting up a 18th banner. Go C’s!

  7. GreenCro says:

    18th… nuff said :-)

  8. Richard says:

    The celtics played very well last night against Brooklyn, the Celtics have a deep bench and With jeff green back he brings versatility at the three or four spots. The DEEPEST BENCH IN THE NBA will carry athe Celtics a long way. Hopefully ALL THE WAY !!!!!!!!!

    • Computer Blue says:

      I agree the the Celtics have a good bench but the whole “deepest bench in the NBA” is so cliche now, and honestly it doesn’t matter much IMO. Miami bench was who again? Guys that were snubbed off as JV types. During the playoffs it will still come down to how well the stars perform so if Rondo Piece Garnett Terry doesn’t beat James Wade Bosh Allen then number 18 ain’t happening.

  9. Dionte Christmas says:

    Put me in, coach!!!

  10. jonathan says:

    The BOSTON CELTICS are definitely a fantastic team. They can go to great lengths with one of the best coaches in the league with Doc Rivers. From the veterans to the rookies this team has great depth. Jeff Green will shine and jared sullinger was a draft steal. With Kevin Garnett’s defense, leadership and mentoship and willingness to do whatever it takes (however U want to interpret that) lol they will be solid. Im from New york rooting for the celtics. GO CELTICS!!!!!!!

  11. spelkey55 says:

    No matter who plays with Kevin,Paul and Rajon they will be a factor in the league. These three will kick butt as usual!

  12. dattebayo says:

    The more I see the Celtics play the more I respect what they can do this season. I really think they can beat Miami and OKC for the best record in the league. Lee and Terry will make up for losing Allen, Bradley will eventually return and Green throws down James Worthy type dunks once in every game (that’s not all he does, but it’s the most exciting thing about him). If Doc manages to turn them into one of the better defensive teams, the Celtics will be a force to reckon with this season. The only weakness left might be rebounding, but Sullinger and Green bring size and strength with their respective positions and there are still guys on the bench that can contribute (Milicic, Wilcox, Melo). If Rondo, KG and Pierce do their thing and stay healthy, the Celtics can take on any team in the league.

    • spelkey55 says:

      I hope your right but no matter how it goes their still THE BOSTON CELTICS! And that alone is enough for me, GO C’s!

      • paqnojo says:

        I think we might be looking at another Lakers vs Celtics showdown this year which will definetly make my sports year. Love to see those 2 teams in the finals.

    • aaaaaa says:

      You said “if Doc can turn them into one of the better defensive teams” but they were 2nd overall in defense last year, behind only the Bulls. Also any team with Avery Bradley and Kevin Garnett is going to be one of the best defensive teams, plus you can’t forget Rondo’s defense, and the new addition of Courtney Lee, who is one of the better perimeter defenders in the league, and there’s no way that they can’t be the number 1 defensive team in the league

      • dattebayo says:

        I watched some preseason games and the Celtics didn’t look as good on defense (pick&roll coverage, 3 point line) as usual and Doc even admitted as much in a post-game interview. Good defense takes time and chemistry and they have a few guys that need to learn the system. I expect them to have one of the best defenses in the league, but they still need to get out and prove that. The Celtics were only average in blocks and steals last season, they were 15th in defensive rebounding and 8th in allowing the most offensive rebounds. They didn’t have much size last season and I also expect them to be better but we will have to wait and see.