Boston Celtics: 5 Possible Starting Lineups in 2012-13

Breana Pitts@@BreanaPittsContributor IIISeptember 18, 2012

Boston Celtics: 5 Possible Starting Lineups in 2012-13

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    Due to the talented depth on the Boston Celtics' roster this season, there are a variety of possibilities for starting lineups.

    The entire starting five from the end of last season returned this year, including Avery Bradley as Ray Allen's replacement. Rajon Rondo will take over as the leader of the Celtics, using his court vision and passing ability to anchor the floor for his team.

    Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will undoubtedly be in the starting lineup, unless the veterans succumb to injury. Last but not least, Brandon Bass rounds out the starting five.

    With some fans already calling for rookie Jared Sullinger, there will probably be changes to the starting lineup as the season progresses. In addition, injuries are inevitable, and the C's need to be prepared for whatever muscle tear or strain is thrown their way.

    In 2012-13, the Celtics have enough versatility to switch up the starting lineup to match any obstacles they might face this season.

Opening Day

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    Starting Lineup: Rajon Rondo (PG), Courtney Lee (SG), Paul Pierce (SF), Brandon Bass (PF), Kevin Garnett (C).

    This is the most likely starting lineup for opening day.

    Rondo at starting point guard is a given. He's the Celtics' biggest weapon and the new leader of the team. His 11.7 assists per game last season are proof that he is vital to the team's success. The C's need his impeccable court vision and polished passing skills if they want to be relevant this season.

    Lee should mesh well with Rondo, as their skills complement each other perfectly. Lee's primary weakness is creating his own shot, while one of Rondo's strengths is putting his teammates in the best possible position to score.

    Pierce and Bass will be the starting small and power forwards, respectively. Despite his age, veteran Pierce is still the best man for the job. Due to the loss of Ray Allen, expect Pierce to have the ball in his hands more this season.

    On the other hand, Bass needs to get more involved this season. Last year, he averaged 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Although there's plenty of room for him to improve his moves in the post, his consistency will keep him in the starting lineup.

    A new KG was reborn when he made the switch from power forward to center last season. Garnett was the center of the team's defense, and arguably the most valuable Celtic in the second half of the season. He won't have to play as many minutes this year, but his production is still much-needed in Boston.

Return of Avery Bradley

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    Starting Lineup: Rajon Rondo (PG), Avery Bradley (SG), Paul Pierce (SF), Brandon Bass (PF), Kevin Garnett (C).

    Avery Bradley is expected to return to the basketball court from shoulder surgery in mid-December. He will most likely resume his role as starting shooting guard for the C's.

    Bradley started 28 games for the Celtics last season, filling in for an injured Ray Allen. Bradley played so well in Allen's absence that head coach Doc Rivers decided to keep him as a starter once Allen returned. 

    His elite perimeter defense is one of the best in the NBA. His offense has also significantly improved during the regular season.

    In his 28 starts for the Celtics, Bradley averaged 12.3 points per game, a 50.4 field goal percentage and a 46.5 three-point percentage. Nonetheless, his offense did fall off in the postseason and he needs to be more consistent on that side of the ball.

    With Bradley and Rondo manning the backcourt together, opposing teams will definitely have their hands full. Rondo has started to take on a scoring role for the team, which allows Bradley to focus on his lockdown defense. The two young guards are the future of the Celtics, and their chemistry is impeccable.

Kevin Garnett Injury

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    Starting Lineup: Rajon Rondo (PG), Avery Bradley (SG), Paul Pierce (SF), Brandon Bass (PF), Chris Wilcox (C).

    At 36 years old, Kevin Garnett is considered an old man in the NBA. He took a sip from the Fountain of Youth last season after becoming the starting center, but it's unlikely he will last a full 82-game season without an injury to his fragile frame.

    If and when Garnett does have to sit out due to injury, Chris Wilcox will step into the role of starting center. Last season, Wilcox was pushed into the starting lineup when Garnett was out with a sore left hip.

    Coming off heart surgery, if Wilcox can get his stamina back to that same level, he should be able to play at least 20 minutes per night.

    A majority of Wilcox's points come from transitions buckets, especially fastbreaks running alongside Rajon Rondo. In fact, Wilcox's 59.8 field goal percentage last season can be accredited to taking advantage of the easy layups.

    The Celtics are going to struggle at the center position, with or without Garnett, and especially against top centers like Andrew Bynum. However, Wilcox will be the most efficient backup for KG.

Jared Sullinger Outplays Brandon Bass

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    Starting Lineup: Rajon Rondo (PG), Avery Bradley (SG), Paul Pierce (SF), Jared Sullinger (PF), Kevin Garnett (C).

    The Celtics picked up quite a steal when they selected Jared Sullinger with the 21st pick of the 2012 NBA draft. After he consistently put up good numbers at the Las Vegas Summer League, it's safe to say Sullinger can develop into a starter this season.

    One of Sullinger's biggest strengths over current starter Brandon Bass is rebounding. Sullinger is an aggressive rebounder, especially on the offensive boards. He averaged 8.6 rebounds per game in the Summer League.

    The Celtics finished last in the NBA last season in rebounding, only averaging 38.8 rebounds per game. As a perimeter player, Bass only contributed 6.2 boards per night.

    Although the NBA will impose bigger threats than the Summer League, Sullinger has the build to compete for rebounds. At 6'9" and 260 pounds, he holds a small size advantage over Bass. The C's need Sullinger's skill set to make a difference on the glass.

End of the Year

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    Starting Lineup: Rajon Rondo (PG), Avery Bradley (SG), Paul Pierce (SF), Jared Sullinger (PF), Kevin Garnett (C).

    Rajon Rondo will lead his team into the postseason as the ultimate floor general. Paired with Avery Bradley, the Celtics' backcourt will be unstoppable.

    Rondo has the skill set to initiate the offense and set up shots for his teammate, while Bradley's quick cuts to the rim will put him in optimal positions to score.

    Defensively, Bradley is almost always matched up against the other team's top offensive threat. His tough perimeter defense caused headaches for players like Dwyane Wade last postseason, so expect him to come back this season with that same drive.

    As long as he's healthy, team captain Paul Pierce will start at small forward. As the team's primary scorer, Pierce will need to average nearly 20 points per game, especially in the absence of Ray Allen. However, with Jeff Green as his primary backup, some of the pressure will be lifted from his shoulders. 

    Once he masters the ropes of the Celtics around All-Star break, it's very likely that Jared Sullinger will continue to start at power forward into the postseason over Brandon Bass. Sullinger's rebounding ability and low-post offense is necessary in the playoffs where big men dominate.

    Finally, Kevin Garnett will remain the team's starting center. KG contributed 19.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals in last year's postseason. It's important for the Celtics to rest Garnett in the regular season because the team needs him as their defensive anchor at the end of the year.


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