Fresh off yet another hard-fought loss, the Boston Celtics will host the Chicago Bulls in the opening game in a back-to-back, home-and-home set tonight.
Those of you expecting to see the same starting five, however, could be in for a surprise.
After admitting that he considers modifying the starting five “every minute of every day,” and that finding the right combination is “a great puzzle” for the team, coach Brad Stevens could roll out a modified starting lineup in an attempt to find a combination the Celtics can feel good about as they head into an offseason of uncertainty.
Don’t get nervous, Celtics fans: Stevens isn’t about to mess with his backcourt of Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo, who have played well enough together that allowing them to continue building trust and chemistry is the way to go. And Jeff Green also seems to be a permanent fixture in the lineup, according to Stevens:
I still think that with Rondo and Avery and Jeff and where we are and the fact that we have not seen those guys play enough together, that I still think [keeping them as starters is] the right thing to do. The most likely change, if there would be a change, would be in the frontcourt.
With Boston having nothing left to play for, I would argue that giving Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger increased playing time is something Stevens and the Celtics should strongly consider. As I much as I appreciate Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass, there is no certainty that either of these guys will even be with the team next season, so why allow them to continue eating up starter minutes when it’s Olynyk and Sully who need to continue developing their game?
Of course, modifying the starting five also means changing the second unit, and it has been Boston’s bench which has been instrumental in helping the team erase some late-game deficits lately. I understand coach Stevens doesn’t want to make a move that destroys the chemistry on not just his starting five, but his second unit as well – but again, Olynyk and Sully are the current future of this team. The only way to see how close they are to cracking the starting rotation is to – say it with me!- play them alongside the starters!
Anyway, a new starting five is not a certainty, but it gives us something to debate and look forward to tonight. The game is set to tip-off at 7 p.m. Follow us on Twitter @HoudiniCeltics and keep checking in with us for our pregame and post game coverage!