C's searching for early sub lineup
November, 12, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made a change Saturday night, utilizing Chris Wilcox as his first big off the bench. As Rivers has implored, he's not overly concerned about Boston's first-unit personnel, but he is clearly hunting for the right mix with his early sub lineup.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesChris Wilcox and Brandon Bass has been a solid frontcourt for the Celtics.
Here's the issue: Kevin Garnett has to come off the floor. Garnett is Boston's first sub at around the five-minute mark. Early in the year, Rivers would swap Garnett with Brandon Bass or Jared Sullinger -- whichever big man wasn't starting -- but early returns suggest the Bass-Sullinger frontcourt is struggling at both ends of the floor. According to NBA.com's stats cube, a Bass-Sullinger combo with Rondo, Courtney Lee and Paul Pierce -- the team's fourth most common lineup this year (18 minutes) -- is a staggering minus-51.2 points per 48 minutes.
How much of a difference has Wilcox made in that first-sub role? The top used Wilcox-Bass lineup (with Rondo, Jeff Green and Jason Terry) is +33.7 points per 48 minutes in 11 minutes together this season, while the same lineup with Pierce in place of Green is +15 points per 48 minutes over 10 minutes of floor time.
Let's bottom line it: When Sullinger and Bass have shared the floor this season, the Celtics are minus-39.2 points per 48 minutes. The Wilcox-Bass (+13.2 points per 48), Wilcox-Green (+16.6) and Wilcox-Sullinger (+69.7) pairings all are decidedly better in a small early-season sample.
Now, part of the success of the Wilcox lineups has been his own inspired play over the past three games. It's imperative that Wilcox maintain his intensity and production as his minutes begin to stretch out. But, at least for now, Wilcox is Boston's best option as part of the early sub lineup.