What happens when Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart are all on the floor?
During the Celtics final preseason game (two weeks ago vs. Brooklyn) the following exchange took place between CSNNE announcers Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn:
Mike: "Can you play Rondo, Smart and Bradley all together?" "You can, but I don't think it works."
— Tommy Heinsohn (@CSNTommy) October 23, 2014
At the time I thought to myself "No way Tommy. Brad Stevens is going to do it a lot, and it's going to be awesome."
So far the early returns are encouraging.
Rondo, Bradley and Smart were all on the floor during crunch time as the Celtics got within one point (after once trailing by 31) of the Mavericks in Dallas on Monday. The trio either scored or assisted (or both) Boston's final 28 points of the game. Writes CSNNE's A. Sherrod Blakely:
...within the three guards' time on the court, it was hard not to marvel at how big an impact their ability to pressure ball-handlers could make. In those closing seconds, it was Bradley forcing a turnover that led to a lay-up with less than a minute to play made it a one-possession game. And even before that, their pressure forced Dallas to not get into its offense as quickly as it would have liked.
There's no denying Boston's three-guard lineup is fun to watch, particularly with the amount of defensive pressure it can put on the opposition.
Smart's fearlessness in defending bigger perimeter players -- we've already seen him on Joe Johnson and Dirk Nowitzki in 1-on-1 situations -- will give coach Brad Stevens even more confidence to go with that three-guard look.
In total, Rondo, Bradley and Smart have played just under 25 minutes together during the Celtics first three games. Via Basketball-Reference.com, here are some stats on how the C's performed (based on averages per hundred possessions) in that time:
They're on pace to outscore their opponents by 10.2 points with 13.4 more assists, as well as 14.6 more steals and 15.7 fewer turnovers. The rebounding differential (again this is projected 100 possessions) is only -3.9, not as bad as might be expected.
Three games and 25 minutes is obviously too small sample a size to make any real judgments on the Rondo-Bradley-Smart combo, but clearly it's worth seeing more of.