The “start Avery Bradley” train now threatens to scoop Doc Rivers at the station and bring him along for the ride.
“I don’t know yet,” Rivers said about the possible change. “We’re playing well, but we’ve also played well with Ray, by the way. I think people forget that part. The good thing is we have options, and we have players with confidence and we have a lot of them. That’s where the season has helped. It’s been good for us. The best part is not Avery for me. Or [Mickael Pietrus]. The best part is Keyon is coming on, so we have an extra guy, and we need it.”
Ray Allen said earlier this week he would have no problem heading to the bench “if it makes us better offensively.” But the biggest changes resulting from the new starting lineup have been defensively.
Allow Paul Flannery to explain:
Over the last five games, the Celtics have held four teams below 90 points per 100 possessions. Included in that list are Utah – who ranks seventh in offensive efficiency – and now Miami, who ranks third. Playing great defense is nothing new for the Celtics, who rank third in defensive efficiency, allowing 99 points per 100 possessions, but this a whole other level. …
Coming into Sunday’s game, the starting lineup with Bradley at the off guard position is a rather incredible 24 points better per 100 possessions than the opponent. It’s not just defensively. In 151 possessions, they have scored 173 points.
Zach Lowe says Boston’s incredible defensive span extends back even before Bradley entered the starting lineup:
Boston in its last eight games has allowed 88.1 points per 100 possessions on average, per NBA.com. That is just unthinkable. Philadelphia, the league’s best defensive team and on pace (due to the general decline in offense this season) to allow one of the lowest points per possession totals in NBA history, surrenders about 95 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com.
Boston’s defense has just obliterated everyone in these eight games — well-rested teams, teams playing on back-to-backs, good scoring teams, awful scoring teams and just plain average scoring teams. They’ve held opponents to 52 percent shooting in the restricted area and 25 percent from three-point range, and they’ve done so without fouling any more than normal.
It might not be time to replace Ray Allen in the starting lineup, but it’s time to seriously start considering the option. With the losses of Jermaine O’Neal and Allen from the first five and the increased roles of Bradley and Greg Stiemsma, the Celtics have changed almost overnight into an athletic squad, after being slow and plodding for quite some time.
There are still questions facing the perspective change, including:
- Would Ray Allen be able to find open jump shots playing with the second unit? It’s different playing alongside Keyon Dooling than it is playing alongside Rajon Rondo.
- Would Allen REALLY be okay with the change? He’s started 1,139 of his 1,143 career games. Pride is a factor.
- Can Bradley continue to thrive on back door cuts even once teams scout him more thoroughly and become more acclimated to that?
- Is Allen’s floor spacing more valuable in a playoff series than it might be during the regular season?
What would you do?