Stevens Debates New Lineup "Every Minute"
WALTHAM, Mass. – Brad Stevens revealed on Saturday that he wrestles with the idea of tweaking Boston’s starting lineup “every minute of every day.”
“I think it’s a great puzzle for us right now,” he admitted.
The coach spoke to reporters Saturday afternoon following a 105-103 loss Friday night in Toronto, Boston’s sixth loss in its last seven games. The team has used the same starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries during each one of those contests. Poor results at both ends of the court have caused Stevens to debate a change to his starting group, most likely along the frontline.
“The backcourt,” said Stevens, “I considered changes but I still think that with Rondo and Avery and Jeff and where we are and the fact that we have not seen those guys play enough together, that I still think [keeping them as starters is] the right thing to do.”
He continued, “The most likely change, if there would be a change, would be in the frontcourt.”
That comment opens up the possibility of Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk rejoining the starting lineup in place of Bass or Humphries, or maybe even both. All four of those players have started at times this season and each has had his moments. However, none of the big men have truly separated themselves from the rest of the group.
Those facts make Stevens’ decision difficult, but there is even more to the story. Each player brings important skills to the table that fit very well with the group that he’s currently playing with.
We’ve learned over the past few seasons that Bass has great chemistry with Rondo and is also a versatile defender who can nail open jumpers at the other end. Humphries, meanwhile, has played an important role in Boston’s transition offense within the starting unit.
“Hump is as good at getting from one end to another, running the floor and getting out in transition, as we have, which has opened up opportunities.” Stevens noted. “We’re a team that struggles to score, and so getting opportunities like that is really important.”
Likewise, the talents of Sullinger and Olynyk have been integral to the emergence of the second unit. Their ability to space the floor and crash the glass has helped Boston’s second group outplay the first unit at times, which only adds to the debate.
“It’s an interesting thing to pose from the standpoint of, do you make one change and does that help both groups? Or does that really hurt one of the groups?” Stevens pondered. “Because right now we are getting a ton in that second group as far as, they’re playing with a great rhythm.
“So do you sacrifice that offensive rhythm or do you tweak that with change?” he later asked. “It’s a great question, and I don’t know that there’s an exact answer.”
Which is why we haven’t seen a change – yet.
Two and a half weeks still remain before Boston’s season will come to an end. That’s two and a half more weeks for Stevens to debate where the pieces of his team’s puzzle best fit.