Doc Rivers is talking about changes, and today the Celtics world is rampant with “start Marquis Daniels” suggestions.
Chris Forsberg got the wheels of the movement rolling. (ESPNBoston)
Here’s one idea. The Celtics could examine moving Marquis Daniels into the starting lineup in place of Ray Allen. At a time when Boston is clearly struggling to generate open looks for Allen, maybe it makes more sense to get a slasher on the floor like Daniels, who is sure to remove some stagnancy from the first unit with his tireless movement.
What’s more, Daniels is one of Boston’s top defenders, allowing him to guard the opposing team’s best player and taking some of that pressure off Paul Pierce early in games.
The other benefit is that Allen would then come off the bench, not only driving down his minutes, but also giving Boston a Jamal Crawford-like scorer with the second unit. Sure, Robinson was brought in for similar bench output, but if there’s one knock on Boston’s second unit, it’s that their scoring isn’t overwhelming.
It’s pretty likely that Allen will be destined for a sixth-man role in coming seasons; maybe this is a chance to see how it looks.
Jeff Clark then briefly seconded the notion. (CelticsBlog)
It would have sounded crazy 3 months ago, but what about making a change to the starting lineup? Maybe bring Ray off the bench (with Daniels starting)?
The trade deadline is gone and there’s no more help coming off the waiver wire. If this team hopes to right the ship, the answers will have to come from within.
Zach Lowe made a nice breakdown of the potential switch, including the following. (Celtics Hub)
• Pro: We have 2 3/4 seasons of evidence that Ray Allen playing with the second unit is a very, very productive line-up. I’ve written before about Allen’s strange ability to make is teammates better, and that has been most visible in the production of line-ups featuring Allen and four bench players. This part of the equation is easy: Ray + Bench = Productive.
• Con: A Daniels/Rondo back court is a very, very poor jump-shooting back court. We all know about Rondo, but Daniels has historically had an effective field-goal percentage on jumpers in the mid-30s, according to 82games (see here and here, for instance) and Hoopdata. Playing these guys together for five minutes a game is one thing; playing them together for 15 minutes is a different thing, and it could create spacing issues that gum up the works on offense.
It would be a radical move, but actually makes a lot of sense. Why not have Ray Allen play with the second unit, get untracked, and bolster the bench mob while playing a Manu Ginobili-like, game-changing role?
The first unit’s perimeter shooting would certainly lose some edge, but the second unit could be devastating and Allen would be freed to carry more of a load.
But the reason I’m most for this move? Marquis Daniels is a slasher the first unit lacks right now. Once upon a time, Paul Pierce was fearless and relentless on his takes to the hoop. But those days are Gone With the Wind, and Pierce is getting to the rim less and less, becoming a perimeter player more than ever before. His three-point percentage is up, but his free throw attempts — as noted by A. Sherrod Blakely — are the lowest since his rookie season. Pierce either isn’t capable, or isn’t willing, to get to the tin anymore.
With Pierce unable to apply pressure on the defense with the dribble, that job has fallen almost solely on Rajon Rondo. While he’s a great penetrator, I’d like to see the Celtics attack the paint with more than one player. Insert Daniels, and the Celtics’ inadequacy getting to the lane becomes smaller.
I’m not sure putting Daniels in the starting lineup would work and I’m pretty sure Doc Rivers would never try a change so drastic. But, whether Rivers is willing to make such a big move or not, the last few months are evidence that something — anything — has to be done.
(Note: Even if the change happens, it might not happen tonight. Daniels, bothered by a sore hip, might be forced to sit out tonight’s game.)