Projecting the Opening Day Boston Celtics 10-Man Rotation
With standout performances from Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger during the preseason and the impressive play of Avery Bradley prior to his injury during the previous season, the Celtics have a strong core of young players to supplement their superstars.
However, the key to utilizing these talents and keeping the veterans fresh for the playoffs, is the use of a rotation that can perform the dual task of winning games while keeping players like Pierce and Garnett fresh for a playoff run.
Doc Rivers has stated that the Boston Celtics are still searching for an identity for their team with all the new additions, and that comes with finding a solid and consistent rotation.
Although the rotations and minutes aren't set in stone, there are definitely a core group of players that will receive the lion's share of the playing time allotted per position.
Starter: Rajon Rondo
- Minutes: approximately 40 minutes a game
Off the Bench: Courtney Lee/Jason Terry/Leandro Barbosa
- Minutes: approximately 8 minutes a game
One of the positions with the least amount of consideration needed in terms of playing time is the point guard position.
Rajon Rondo is a top five point guard in the league. Furthermore, he's the vocal leader on the court and the Celtics offense runs as he dictates. Thus, Rajon Rondo and his young legs must play close to 40 minutes a game if the Celtics are to have any chance of being competitive on the offensive end of the court.
Along with his excellent court vision and passing, Rajon Rondo possesses the ability to create his own shot or create a shot for others off the dribble, which was a major weakness for the Celtics last season. This makes him the most indispensable offensive player in the line up.
Unfortunately, the Celtics don't have a true back-up point guard for Rajon Rondo. Therefore, once Rondo hits the bench, the Celtics will have to employ a conglomerate of combo guards to man the point guard spot for the scant minutes that Rondo needs for rest.
Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and to a lesser extent, Leandro Barbosa will all share some time at the point guard position. All Doc Rivers really needs from these guards during this brief amount of time will be to bring the ball up the court without turning it over.
Starter: Courtney Lee
- Minutes: approximately 20 minutes a game
Off the Bench: Jason Terry/Leandro Barbosa
- Minutes: approximately 28 minutes a game
The unique thing about the Boston Celtics and their guard rotation, is that all of their role players off the bench at the guard positions will be required to play both point guard and shooting guard.
Utilizing Jason Terry as the primary scorer off of the bench, Courtney Lee and Terry will share minutes at the shooting guard position and will be substituted for each other based on hot hands, match-ups and performance.
Leandro Barbosa, the Celtics most recent signing, is more of a mystery to Doc Rivers, but should see some playing time as well for his ability to shoot and bring the ball up the court.
Furthermore, there are going to be some opportunities for two of these players to be in the game at the same time at both guard spots when Rajon Rondo hits the bench.
However, once Avery Bradley returns, expect to see all of these players receive a reduction in minutes and one of these players being kicked out of the rotation as well.
Starter: Paul Pierce
- Minutes: approximately 30 minutes a game
Off the Bench: Jeff Green
- Minutes: approximately 18 minutes a game
With the addition of Jeff Green, Paul Pierce will finally have a quality back up that can produce on offense and is big enough to be a producer on the boards and a decent perimeter defenders against other small forwards in the league.
Furthermore, while Green may only get roughly 18 minutes a game at the small forward position, expect the young talent to play some minutes at the power forward position as well.
Green is a 6'8" forward with the ability to stretch the floor with his shot, finish strong at the rim and post up on occasion. He possesses a different style of play than Pierce, but there is no doubt that he can contribute well enough so that the offense doesn't suffer when Pierce and his ability to create shots off the dribble goes to the bench for rest.
Perhaps one of Green's most prominent contributions to this squad, aside from what he brings to the court, is his presence, which allows Pierce to potentially rest more minutes per game this upcoming season.
While his minutes have dropped off to roughly 34 per game the past three seasons, Pierce may be in for an even larger drop off in minutes if Green can live up to his potential and perform well off the bench.
If Green is able to play consistent and smart basketball and establish himself in the rotation, expect a very potent bench and a well rested Paul Pierce come playoff time.
Starter: Brandon Bass
- Minutes: approximately 26 minutes a game
Off the Bench: Jared Sullinger/Jeff Green
- Minutes: approximately 22 minutes a game
Other: Kevin Garnett
Since moving to the center position, Kevin Garnett seemed to reestablish himself as one of the dominant big men in the NBA despite his older age.
As he reaffirmed his status in the league, his positional shift allowed Brandon Bass to establish himself as a very productive starting power forward for the Boston Celtics in the previous season.
However, last season, one of the Celtics' biggest concerns was their lack of front court depth. This year, with the stellar performances of Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green during the preseason, the Celtics have rectified that weakness.
Despite Chris Wilcox going through complications, the Celtics bolstered front court will be primarily manned by Bass as a starter and Sullinger as the primary bench player at the power forward position.
Even though Doc Rivers has considered several line ups, some of which include having Sullinger start, having Bass start may be a more prudent move.
The good thing about Sullinger is that he brings to the table a different skill set than Bass, and they both compliment each other well. Furthermore, Sullinger doesn't have a problem coming off the bench, to the approval of Kevin Garnett.
Bass, like Garnett, is one of the best shooting big men in the league. Having both Bass and Garnett play together really stretches the floor and allows Rondo more lanes to create.
While Sullinger isn't as good of a shooter as Bass or Garnett, he is efficient from the free throw line, quick with his outlet passes and takes smart shots in the paint.
Both players are proficient rebounders, and their different approaches to the offense, combined with their rebounding contributions on defense, make them perfect compliments.
In addition to that, both players play the pick and roll a different way. Bass is more of a pick and pop player while Sullinger, with his ability to finish without hesitation at the rim, has the potential to be a decent pick and roll player as well.
Furthermore, the depth chart for the power forward position is bolstered by Green, who is expected to play both forward spots off the bench.
Starter: Kevin Garnett
- Minutes: approximately 30 minutes a game
Off the Bench: Darko Milicic
- Minutes: approximately 18 minutes a game
Kevin Garnett is one of the premier centers in the league.
However, his age and the mileage on his legs are a major concern for Doc Rivers, who won't play him more than thirty minutes a game during the regular season unless absolutely necessary.
While Garnett is on the court, the defensive leader of the Celtics brings aggression and tenacity in terms of distorting opposing shot attempts and rebounding proficiently.
On the offensive end, Garnett brings impressive passing from both the high and low posts, while being a force to be reckoned with as a scorer on the low block as well.
Furthermore, his impressive jump shot that stretches out close to the three point line is a dangerous weapon that compliments his excellent low post game well.
While Rajon Rondo may be the most important cog in the offense, Garnett is not far behind. Without his ability to draw double teams in the post and stretch the floor via his shooting, the Celtics lose important driving lanes as well as their only real post presence.
Expect the Boston Offense to rely on Rondo's dribble penetration and Paul Pierce and Jason Terry's shot creation off the dribble profusely to jump start their offense once Garnett hits the bench to take a breather.
Although there will be a monumental drop off in post offense once Garnett hits the bench, expect solid production on the defensive end and on the boards from Darko Milicic.
Furthermore, Milicic also brings a big body to set screens as well as decent passing ability for a big man.
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