According to Doc Rivers, the new Boston Celtics starting lineup is here to stay*. (Boston Herald)
“We’re quicker, there’s no doubt, and Kevin has been fantastic at the 5,” Rivers said. “I had made the decision even before the injury — when Brandon and Kevin come back, that will be our starting five, and JO and Chris (Wilcox) and whoever else will come off the bench. I made that decision long before whether he was coming back or not.”
With apologies to Jermaine, YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.
KG looks more athletic at the five than he has in years (as Doc Rivers was quoted in Paul Flannery’s marvelous Garnett piece, “At four there’s a lot of fours as quick or quicker, now all of a sudden he’s the fastest five”), Bass provides infinitely more scoring punch than O’Neal, and Chris Wilcox’s emergence as a legitimate bench option means the Celtics suddenly have an athletic, if not large, front court.
All that being said, something to keep an eye on: the Celtics starting lineup has actually performed better with O’Neal than it has with Bass, according to BasketballValue.com.
In case you don’t have superhuman vision or a magnifying glass, the normal Celtics starters (including JO) are 7.98 points better than their opponents per 100 possessions. With Bass, the same lineup is 10.47 points per 100 possessions worse than its counterparts.
*As I typed this sentence, I was 100 percent sure another injury would be announced before I finished, which of course would change the starting lineup. Nothing yet. For now. Fingers crossed.