The strategy behind Brad Stevens' management of minutes

In this morning's NBA TV Gametime broadcast, the crew discussed the great depth of the Golden State Warriors. Analyst Sam Mitchell had these comments about the that depth:

They have 9, 10 guys that are solid, that have been with this team. Their defense is what they hang their hat on. They don't have a shot blocker. They don't have a Marcus Smart or a guy like that.

It is interesting, first of all, that an unbiased analyst would single out the enigmatic Marcus Smart in such a positive way. The riddle is how can a player shooting 27.3% from the field have such value? My answer is that the smartest coach in the League is giving Marcus starter's minutes on the team with the best record in the League. Tough to argue with that.

Brad Stevens is allocating players' minutes conservatively to prevent fatigue and injuries and to get the young guys experience and the new guys used to playing together as a team. For the present, the Celtics go 11-deep, starting with Jaylen Brown at 32.3 MPG down to Shane Larkin at 10.7 MPG. The Golden State Warriors go 12-deep, starting with Kevin Durant at 34.3 MPG to Omri Casspi at 11.0 MPG.

Boston and Golden State have many similarities. Other than being on opposite coasts, the big difference is experience. The Dubs average 12.0 years of NBA experience in their 12-man rotation. The Celtics average a paltry 3.3 years of experience among 11 players with three zeros (rookies) in the mix. That is a huge margin, particularly come playoff time.

So that is Brad's strategy. Keep the minutes moderate, avoiding the league-high 38.6 MPG held by LeBron James. Prevent fatigue and injuries and give the current low-minute players (Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis and Shane Larkin) a bit more time on the court. Ojeleye for his defense, Theis for his rebounding and Larkin for his scoring.

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Photo via Charles Krupa/AP Photo