Eleven games into the regular season the Boston Celtics have gone 4-7, starting the season 0-4, then winning four straight, and are currently on a three game losing streak. With next week’s opponents being playoff and championship contenders, Boston will need to play the right guys at the right times to effectively stay within striking distance throughout the game. In the past two games the Celtics had a difficult time regaining the lead, or overcoming double digit deficits. Seeing that the chances of this current losing streak extending beyond four games is high, should Brad Stevens consider making lineup changes, or at the very least shake up the rotations?
Courtney Lee missed last night’s game against the Timberwolves due to a sore wrist, and had he played, the outcome wouldn’t have changed. MarShon Brooks filled in supplying 8 points on 3 of 7 shooting, and while that’s not overly impressive, there is promise in his game. Brooks will never reach his potential by sitting on the bench and watching Courtney Lee get his minutes. Realistically, the chances of making the playoffs are very low, which is why players like MarShon should be participating more. Lee has been decent this season, but the ups and downs he’s had during his time in Boston is disconcerting, and maybe giving Brooks a look now and then could build his (Brooks) confidence up.
The Celtics have also had some trouble boxing out on missed shots and have had to deal with foul trouble on a nightly basis. Kris Humphries is a qualified big-man who can come in and play consistent, score points, and grab rebounds. However, he hasn’t been given much time so far this season, and he could really help this team, bringing leadership and doing the intangibles. Letting Humphries play not only helps Boston contend on a nightly basis, but also helps this team grow. The veterans need to get playing time to mentor the young guys, not only in the practice facility, but also on the court during the game.
With the size problems the Celtics have had, changing the starting lineup might be worth looking at. Having Vitor Faverani playing center, Brandon Bass at power forward, Gerald Wallace at small forward, Jeff Green at shooting guard, and Jordan Crawford at point guard would be beneficial to the team as a whole. While debates can start on why Avery Bradley isn’t starting and Gerald Wallace has accepted his role as sixth man, nothing this team does should be etched in stone, and no one knows what the Celtics roster might look like at the end of the season.
If Boston made a lineup change similar to this, the bench becomes a threat. Right now there is no go-to scorer coming off the bench for the Celtics, and this is the root of all the problems they’ve faced this season. With Avery Bradley coming off the bench with Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Courtney Lee, Phil Pressey, and Kris Humphries, Boston now has a bench that can score, defend, and is interchangeable.
This year’s Celtics are capable of being a 7th or 8th seed in the East, but with current starting lineups and rotations this team isn’t reaching it’s full potential. By shaking up the lineups and making starting unit changes, this team can compete throughout an entire game. Let’s face it, this isn’t 2008. Brad Stevens can manage a 10 or 11 man rotation, making slight changes to that rotation depending on who the opponent is. Boston’s record isn’t an accurate representation of this team, and they’ve shown that they can play much better with more intensity.