Analyzing the last two starting lineups, and where the team stands so far.

During Brad Stevens' preseason lineup experimentation, we've seen these starting lineups:

Vs. Raptors: Bradley-Lee-Green-Bass-Humphries
Vs. Knicks: Bradley-Lee-Wallace-Bass-Sullinger

In both games it seemed like the bench outplayed the starters, and of course in both games the Celtics lost, but I just want to analyze the starters the best I could, and make predictions for the lineup we may see tonight. Before I start off, I'm not putting any blame on the starters. I understand it was just only the first two preseason games, but I'm just analyzing what was done on the court. I'm not jumping to any conclusions or anything.

In the first game against the Raptors, every player in the starting lineup had a negative +/- score. Normally I'd take that particular stat with a grain of salt, but this time it was clear to see that the starters simply didn't play well in the first game.

The scoring was abysmal all by itself. That starting lineup played approximately 93 combined minutes, but only managed to score 33 points. They shot a combined 17 for 48 from the field (35%) and went 3-11 from 3-point range (27%). Now of course these are not reflective of all the starters since Bass and Humphries both went 4-8 from the field, and the 3-point shooting dip had a lot to do with Jeff Green going 0-4, but once again as a starting unit, I'm going to look at them collectively and not individually (yet).

Rebounding was also a real blow to the team. The Celtics got out-rebounded by 20, and in the combined 93 minutes the starters played, they collected 12 of the 26 rebounds. This was however, somewhat justifiable. The Raptors have a pretty good front court with Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas, and newly acquired Tyler Hansbrough off the bench and those three alone combined for 24 rebounds, while playing a combined 70 minutes. Celtics starters= 93 minutes, 12 rebounds. Valanciunas, Hansbrough, Johnson= 70 minutes, 24 rebounds.

Defensively, I don't think the starting unit set the tone. The Raptors got off to an 8-0 start right out the gate, and the Celtics could do nothing to stop Valanciunas from scoring 6 out of those 8 points. He was making short range jumpers, he was getting dunks, the Celtics were just too small upfront to compete.

Then the second game rolls around...

Now Brad Stevens makes a couple of changes to the starting lineup. He takes out Green and Humphries to insert Sullinger and Wallace. The Celtics are still small upfront, but the Knicks were featuring Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani in the starting front court. Bargnani is no louse on offense but he can be a liability defensively, while Chandler is the opposite. He's not known for lighting up the scoreboard or creating his own shot, but defensively he's among the elites.

This starting unit was slightly better than the one before it, but once again everybody in the starting unit had a negative +/- score. (Avery Bradley had a good game, but collectively the starting lineup didn't so he'd still won't get a positive +/- score).

The scoring still wasn't great, but it was better. The starting unit combined for roughly 80 minutes and scored 34 points, shooting 13-32 from the field (41%) and 3-10 from the field (30%).

Rebounding-wise the Celtics actually out-rebounded the Knicks by two, and in the starters vs starters comparison the Celtics starters out-rebounded the Knicks starters by one. Granted, Amar'e Stoudemire didn't play as well as Kenyon Martin but that's still a rebounding victory for the Celtics.

Defensively, the starting unit held their own against the Knicks. The Knicks didn't go on a wild run to start the game and both teams were tied by the time substitutions were made.

As it stands currently for the starters:

Scoring: 33.5 points a game (6.7 individually)
Shooting: 38% from the field, 28.5% from 3-point range
Rebounding: 20.5 rebounds a game (4.1 individually)
Playing time: 86.5 minutes (17.3 individually)
Defensively: They give up 46 points to the opposing starting unit (9.2 individually).

It's starting to look like Stevens looks at who played well the game before as a guide to who will start the game after. I believe Pressey has earned a starting spot, and with Lee playing sub par thus far, it makes sense for Pressey to be the starting point guard, and for Bradley to move to his regular shooting guard position. It'll be interesting to see if Faverani could get the starting nod at center, with Sullinger as the power forward. That to me can be a good lineup:


What are your thoughts? How do you feel about the starting lineup thus far, and who do you think will start tonight?