How am I? I’m good. Just hanging out, you know? Waiting for the beginning of basketball season. Starts in a couple weeks, have you heard? Can’t wait. I got my League Pass ready to roll, my Twitter ready to troll, and I’m chillin’. Just reading another article about how the Celtics all love each other and about how the bench isn’t going to suck for once. It’s pretty cool, I guess. This one here from The Boston Herald, let’s see, it says that Courtney Lee and Jeff Green like each other and that Doc Rivers might experiment with the first and second units and send a starter to the second unit. You know, no big de-
“Last year we had to search for the right starting lineup, and this year we have to keep searching for the right second lineup. We may take a starter and put him in the second lineup because you get them better, the first lineup will be fine. We just keep moving guys around.”
Well that’s news. And quite frankly, a somewhat incomprehensible quote. That second sentence is a doozy. “We may take a starter and put him in the second unit because you get them better, the first lineup will be fine”? What does that even mean? Is the first lineup fine or are you going to switch it? I don’t speak Spanish, in English please.
Fortunately, Doc restated his lineup ideas in much more comprehensible Doc fashion. Unfortunately, that involved a familiar face (dun dun duuuuun). From WEEI:
In addition to Sullinger or Brandon Bass starting at the 4, Rivers said he could use Darko Milicic at center and slide Kevin Garnett back to his familiar turf.
“We can slide Kevin over to the four to start games. The first half of the year I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, so Kevin doesn’t have a wrestling match the entire season with the bigs,” Rivers said. “There’s a lot of thoughts. We may go to a transitional starting lineup, have three different starting lineups. We’ve put a lot of thought into it, we’ll just figure it out.”
I’ll spare you the Darko freakout. As usual, I’ll do most of my complaining on Twitter. Just know that starting him will be a disaster in every way (he blocks shots, but he doesn’t really defend), and there’s no way a championship-caliber team starts Darko Milicic for any extended period of time. Hang on, I have to go punch a brick wall for several days.
Like most people, I was assuming that Boston’s starting lineup might be questionable at the start of the season with Avery Bradley out but that, given the team’s offensive and defensive efficiencies last season with Bradley in the game, when he returned it would be pretty cut-and-dried: Rondo, Bradley, Pierce, Bass and Garnett.
But apparently, Doc’s opinion is a little more in flux. The obvious question mark is at power forward. Bass wasn’t a superstar, but he was very consistent offensively from mid-range in particular. Bass’ main competition, Jeff Green, hasn’t shown a similar kind of consistency, and Jarod Sullinger, despite an encouraging trip to Europe, is still very young and very untested.
But where Green DOES seem to present a legitimate challenge to Bass is in a small-ball lineup, as the C’s have made no secret of the fact that they are gunning for Miami. Green matches up better than Bass against the Heat, as he could defend either LeBron James (as much as James can be defended) or Shane Battier when the lineups call for it. Bass may have made a valiant effort to guard James in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, but, well, you saw what happened, and there was blood. Good God, there was blood.
Bradley’s competition for the starting spot seems less likely to overtake him. Terry prefers coming off the bench with good reason; his ability to light up the opposition’s second unit offensively is a role that fits him well. Lee will likely start in Bradley’s place while he recovers, but Lee can’t match Bradley’s defensive intensity. That leaves Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith, both players who might not even make the roster.
The Celtics had an absurdly good record (24-10) after the All-Star break last season with a Rondo-Bradley-Pierce-Bass-Garnett starting lineup, so tinkering with that formula, to me, seems unnecessary and a little risky. But considering how weak Boston’s bench has been for the past few years, it feels really good to even have this conversation, no?
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.