In the fourth quarter of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Doc Rivers went with a lineup that was supposed to be a signal of surrender, but the players who were in for the Boston Celtics played with a lot of heart. Jordan Crawford, Terrence Williams, Jeff Green, DJ White, and Shavlik Randolph cut the Grizzlies lead to four with a minute remaining after being down by as many as 21 points. Usually, a lineup consisting of players who are deep in Boston’s rotation don’t get many minutes in games that matter, but Doc Rivers may want to reconsider that game plan.
From day one, Terrence Williams and Jordan Crawford had great on court chemistry that made them a potent threat in the backcourt. Both players would find each other in the most unlikely spots and made some threading-the-needle type passes to get the ball to the receiver. Crawford had 21 points in Memphis, displaying his talent, and should definitely give Doc Rivers confidence in his ability to score at will and give him more playing time down the stretch. He singlehandedly lead the Celtics back within striking distance, and if it wasn’t for a few mistakes in the final minute of the game by the team, it’s possible that the outcome would have been different. Williams had 9 points on 4 of 4 shooting. He made clutch baskets down the stretch and was active on the defensive end. Hopefully Doc will give them more looks at playing time together in the final games of the regular season.
DJ White and Shavlik Randolph left their marks on Saturday’s game by being active on the offensive and defensive glass. They played like they were fighting for their NBA careers, and after their performances they’ll definitely see another day in the league. The Celtics have had trouble rebounding all season, and to at least minimize the rebounding deficit, Doc should consider playing them more. He might have to by default now that Kevin Garnett is out for at least four to five games with a foot injury. After Saturday, I want to see both Randolph and White in games and given significant playing time. I know some fans have brought up that if the Celtics are going to rely on players who just came over to the NBA from China, Boston could be in trouble. I disagree, and we’ll never know how good these players are unless Doc plays them. Currently, the Celtics are on a four game losing streak, so I highly doubt they could do worse in games
Jeff Green is Jeff Green. With the ball being in his hands more with this lineup he can do what he does best, which is to drive to the hoop aggressively and finish with the layup or posterizing dunk. Doc doesn’t run any plays for Green throughout games, but maybe with a lineup that makes him the go-to-guy, he could be more effective, putting up 20 to 25 points a night. With Boston struggling, they need to find a solution. Giving Green the opportunity to run the team on offense would benefit him and the team, not only now, but in the future. The fact that Doc left him in the game, even though at the time it was out of reach, speaks volumes. He needs to become a leader, and if no one on the team is going to step up in the absence of Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett (temporarily), and Paul Pierce (when he’s not on the floor) Boston will need to look to someone else.
The lineup Doc went with on Saturday in the fourth quarter was filled with hungry players who want to win and want their contracts extended. In a game like tonight against the New York Knicks, unleashing this group of hungry players could lead to some aggressive play on both ends of the court and maybe help Boston secure a victory. Right now, nothing is working for the Celtics. Mixing things up and putting in players who want to prove something could have a very positive outcome for this team as they fight to steal a higher seed for the playoffs.