Earlier in the year, the Celtics starters were routinely outscored by their own bench, never mind the other team's starters. That was back in the days were Smart/Bradley/Crowder/Lee/Zeller formed the starting quintet. Partly due to injuries, partly due to performance, only two of the original starting five currently takes the floor for tip off (Bradley and Crowder). Overall it's certainly helped to have Isaiah's scoring, Amir's rim protection, and Sully's rebounding in the starting five. But last night in particular, the results were pretty decent.
Isaiah Thomas on he and Avery Bradley outscoring the Pelicans' starting backcourt 33-0: "Zero? Dang. That's dominant."— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) December 8, 2015
New Orleans' starting backcourt (Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans) just went scoreless on a combined 0-7 shooting in 34 minutes.— CelticsLife.com (@CelticsLife) December 8, 2015
Jared Sullinger out-rebounded all 5 Pelicans starters combined (including Anthony Davis) 20-13— CelticsLife.com (@CelticsLife) December 8, 2015
Celtics starters just outscored Pelicans starters 70-29— CelticsLife.com (@CelticsLife) December 8, 2015
I didn't want to embed all those tweets, but felt I had to. The Celtics starting five positively crushed that of the Pelicans team that trots out a consensus top-five player in the NBA each night in Anthony Davis. But last night Isaiah Thomas was the best offensive player on the court, and Jared Sullinger was the best rebounder. Davis was neutralized and the Celtics starters led the way to an easy W down in New Orleans. So will Stevens keep this starting five intact when Marcus Smart comes back from his injury?
Brad Stevens says Marcus Smart will come off the bench initially when he returns to #Celtics lineup.— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) December 4, 2015
Isaiah Thomas's success as a starter creates a tricky rotation situation for Brad Stevens. Thomas better suited for sixth man than Smart.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) December 4, 2015
It's an interesting situation to monitor, and hopefully Smart is back in a few weeks and we can see what Stevens does sooner than later. Smart should come off the bench when he's getting up to full speed, but once he's 100% I expect to see him in the starting lineup. The question will be whether Thomas or Bradley slides over to the sixth man role. Both those players seem like better fits to come off the bench than Smart. The crunch time lineup is one to watch. Personally I'd like to see some of the Thomas/Smart/Bradley/Crowder/Sullinger five to close games.
But the fact that the starters are more than holding their own in Marcus Smart's absence is an encouraging sign, even if it will create some more tough decisions for Brad Stevens down the line.
Photo Credit Derik E Hingle/USA Today
Follow Paul @paulcolahan Paul Colahan 12/08/2015 10:24:00 AM Tweet Edit