I expect this to be a recurring issue for the foreseeable future, hence the "Volume 1" in the title.
Trailing by nine entering the fourth quarter Friday night, the Celtics began the period with a lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko and Kelly Olynyk. Then Avery Bradley came in for Thomas, immediately followed by Marcus Smart for Jerebko. Soon after that Tyler Zeller substituted for Olynyk, only to quickly be removed for Jared Sullinger, as well as Smart leaving for Thomas.
As the game slipped out of hand, it seemed fairly evident that Brad Stevens had no idea what his best linenup was. Major offseason acquisitions David Lee and Amir Johnson didn't even see the floor in the fourth quarter.
In all, Stevens used 11 players in the loss to Toronto, and it's hard to argue his rotation should be any shorter than that:
The Celtics had 10 players average between 7.2 points and 10.2 points during the preseason. An 11th, Isaiah Thomas (14.0) led the way.
During the preseason, Stevens said he only expected to use four big men per game. Rest, illness, and Kelly Olynyk's suspension allowed him to delay making any decisions along those lines until Friday's matchup with the Raptors. However, Stevens chose to use all five of his power forward/centers versus Toronto, plus Jonas Jerebko in the frontcourt as well. Every Celtics big logged fewer than 20 minutes, with the distribution as follows:
Is that a recipe for success? Doubtful. It's hard to win in crunch time when it's impossible to determine who should be on the floor. Through two games, there's next to no separation between the Celtics second-best player and their 11th-best player. Against garbage teams like the Sixers that's fine, but it's not going to work when the C's take on serious competition.