Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports
The Celtics will experiment with new lineups after the loss of Rajon Rondo.When the Celtics trotted out a five-man combination of Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, Jared Sullinger, and Kevin Garnett on Sunday against Miami, it wasn't just the first start of the season for that unit, it was their very first time together on the floor.
According to NBA.com lineup data, the group performed well over 12 minutes of total floor time. The starting group finished 10-of-18 shooting (55.6 percent) for 26 points with an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 117.1 (well above the team's season average of 99.6). The only negatives were an inflated turnover percentage (18 percent), some struggles on the glass, and the fact that the unit ultimately tread water, finishing even in plus/minus as Miami matched its overall output.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday that the team will go back to that starting lineup on Wednesday night against Sacramento and it appears Lee will get every chance to maintain the starting role in the absence of Rajon Rondo.
Maybe most encouraging about that unit's production: Eight assists on 10 field goals. That's a solid start for a unit without a pure point guard.
The Celtics went small for much of Sunday's game against the Heat, which led to a rather oddball pairing of Pierce, Garnett, Jason Terry, Jeff Green, and Leandro Barbosa playing the most minutes (18). In fact, the three-man combo of Pierce, Green, and Garnett logged a team-high 28 minutes together.
It will be interesting to see how Doc Rivers' rotations look Wednesday night against the Kings as Boston starts the process of adjusting lineups without Rondo.
"You don't really replace a guy like Rondo," said Paul Pierce. "It's hard to replace All-Star guards. So it has to come from different guys probably expanding certain people's roles. Asking some other players to do what they haven't probably been doing all year, which they're going to have the opportunity to do now. So, I think we definitely have the talent to do that. I mean, we've shown it in a couple games where we've played without him. It's just about probably maintaining it now for a longer period of time than just one or two games."