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Last Wednesday, Isaiah Thomas called out Brad Stevens for a lack of a set rotation after a 99-94 loss to the Pistons. In that game, Jonas Jerebko, James Young and RJ Hunter played, while Tyler Zeller and David Lee got a DNP. The next night, the Celtics loss to the Chicago Bulls saw Lee and Hunter on the bench while Young, Zeller, and Jerebko got some playing time. And Avery Bradley wasn't even involved in either contest. If it seems confusing, it's because it kind of was. Since the Bulls game, Stevens just may have listened to his diminutive star and tightened up the rotation.

Even with Avery Bradley's return to the lineup Sunday against Memphis, the Celtics only had nine players see action. Against the Knicks on Tuesday and the Pacers last night, the same nine players have taken the court. It's still a work in progress, as Sullinger and Olynyk swapped spots in the starting lineup. But for the last two games, Brad Stevens has given all his minutes to guards Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Evan Turner and forwards Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, and Jonas Jerebko.

After David Lee's dismal 2-12 performance on Sunday, Jerebko might stick as the ninth man. The Celtics have gone to smaller lineups with more versatility and floor spacing with Jerebko on board and there's potential to rekindle some of last year's magic there. While the Celts came up short in New York on Tuesday, last night's win against the Pacers was secured by aggressive perimeter defense. That's this teams strength, and the more Smart/Bradley/Crowder play together the more likely their defense can lead to opportunities in transition. While small, a Thomas/Smart/Bradley/Crowder/Johnson crunch time lineup sure wreaked havoc against the Pacers. It will be interesting to see how often Stevens closes games with that lineup - which includes the best scorers and defenders the Celtics have to offer.

Some of the lineups moving forward are sure to be matchup dependent. But the days of seeing Stevens go 11, 12 deep appear to be over. That means that Celtics fans looking for a youth movement are going to have to go up to Maine if they want to see Young, Hunter, Mickey, and Rozier. And David Lee and Tyler Zeller likely have a lot of pine riding in their future barring injuries, severe bouts of foul trouble, or the next move by trader Danny Ainge.

Let's see what happens tomorrow night against Phoenix. Look for Stevens to continue to keep his rotations tighter and for the Celtics to play more small ball in the weeks ahead.


Photo Credit Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Paul Colahan 1/14/2016 03:45:00 PM Edit
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