Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has had a less than ideal start to the season.
The C's came into the 2016-2017 campaign with lofty expectations after acquiring free-agent Al Horford. Despite failing to make it out of the first-round of the playoffs for the second straight year, many analysts saw the Horford move as the one that would put the C's over the top. Combine the pickup with their top 5 defense and gritty, never give up attitude and this would be the year that Boston would finally make it out of the first-round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately, so far, the Celtics tenacious defense, especially their perimeter play, has been horrible, coach Stevens stopped short of calling the team "soft" and Al Horford has been out several games with a concussion.
Granted, coach Stevens has had to tinker with a not so healthy team through the first six games of the season. In additon to Horford, Kelly Olynyk remains sidelined after offseason shoulder surgery and swingman Jae Crowder, who is so pivotal to the Celtics style of play, has been out with an ankle injury.
Now, with the C's playing their next game on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards, coach Stevens needs to figure out what lineup is going to give his team the best chance of success. Here's the thing, he doesn't know which lineup to go with, via Chris Forsberg of ESPN:
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens doesn't rule out changing starting lineup before Wednesday's game vs. Wizards: "I don't know what we're gonna do Wednesday. We've got a couple of days now to think about that. Today was more about let's assess and watch what we didn't do well and what we did do well, which on [the defensive] end of the floor wasn't much, and then figure that out. And I don't know who's gonna be available, so that's the other part of that equation."
The Celtics are fourth in the league in points per game but 29th in defensive rating. Yes, you read that right. Of course, you can cut the team a little slack based on the fact that they've been down so many key players but still, its been rough. Having at least Horford and Olynyk back in the lineup won't solve all of the Celtics problems but it'll certainly help.
Hopefully coach Stevens can put together a lineup that works on Wednesday. It if doesn't work and they lose again and drop to under .500 let's hope Horford, Olynyk and Crowder come back very, very, very soon.
Photo credit: Charles Krupa/AP
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