The Marcus Smart-Kyrie Irving backcourt experiment - major success

I proposed the change in an article on November 12, 2018. My argument was that Marcus Smart in the starting unit with Kyrie Irving was the way to go. The move didn't happen until November 26, but the insertion of Smart into the Starting Five has been a massive success.

For the past 19 games since Marcus became a starter, the Celtics have the second-highest win percentage in the NBA. The record for the 19 games is 14-5, or .737. They are also ranked number-one in Offensive Rating, Net Rating, Points/Game (117.8) and Assists/Game (28.2).

The Win Percentage is the big number here. No stat holds much value without victories. But the Offensive Rating, points and assists are all closely linked, and the ball has been moving very efficiently in that 19-game span.

My argument in the November 12th article was that Brad Stevens was being too gracious in not tweaking the starting unit, and Smart needed to be in that starting five. This is what I wrote:

If Danny Ainge were the coach, I believe he would have tweaked the starting-five, possibly by inserting Marcus Smart and giving (Jaylen) Brown more offensive leeway on the second unit. Smart gets to ignite his team right away and not allow them to get even close to stagnant.

Their (Celtics players) shots haven't fallen, but they sometimes take plays off. Marcus does not. He has proven himself as a relentless defender and talented assist guy who does everything but score the ball. Put him with four scorers and get Jaylen (Brown) more into the offense against opposing back-ups. Makes sense.

Boston's success continued last night with a 116-19 win over the Brooklyn Nets. The guys in green passed off for 37 assists, compared to only 19 for Brooklyn. Irving and Smart combined for 11 of the 37 assists. At least for now, consider the backcourt experiment a complete success.

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Photos via Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images