Fans are so quick to make a to-do about who starts the game, but basketball purists realize that the most important lineup is the one that closes the game. Yes, it can be situational, but ideally, the principle is to get the best five players on the court, and the five that have had the best game.
What lineup will that be for the Celtics?
It would seem the focus of Doc Rivers would be to get his best scorers on the court, without overcompensating and sacrificing too much size. Kevin Garnett will likely slide over to the five spot, if he doesn’t start there (see: Andrew Silva’s piece on Darko Milicic starting), which will enable the C’s to avoid the pitfall of having Darko Milicic on the court when buckets are needed. Locking in KG at center, Rajon Rondo at point, and Paul Pierce at the wing, which two players will round out the C’s closing lineup?
The two best scorers to do it with would be Jason Terry and Jeff Green. That’s if Rivers needs the scoring. If he is focusing more on locking down a hot perimeter player, expect to see Avery Bradley on the court.
If the other team has a lot of size, it’s feasible that Darko remains in at center and KG fills the four-spot.
Brandon Bass offers more size than Jeff Green at power forward, but Green can play the four-spot too, and is a more versatile defender than Bass. He also scores better.
Rivers said, “It’s not as difficult as you think, it comes down to the right two…Jeff Green, and another guard or another big. It might be the right one because Jeff Green, for the most part, might be on the floor as well. It comes down to that fifth guy, and it is it i gong to be another big to go big? Another guard to go small? There’s a lot of options.”
Rivers statement reveals Green will likely be in the lineup, but with him it could be either Darko Milicic, Brandon Bass—if going big—or Jason Terry, Avery Bradley or Courtney Lee—if going small.
That projects to these two lineups:
PF/C- KG + Bass/Milicic