Lee an Offensive Jolt to C's Starting Unit

WALTHAM, Mass. – A season ago, the Boston Celtics’ starting rotation struggled at times to get things going and oftentimes found itself in need of an offensive jolt.

If Brad Stevens proceeds with the starting lineup he has been leaning on throughout the majority of preseason play, that lack of a consistent offensive spark should no longer be an issue.

That’s largely due to the anticipated presence of David Lee in that starting rotation.

If Stevens goes with Lee at the 4, he will add immediate offensive aggressiveness alongside fellow potential starters Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Tyler Zeller.

Prior to Boston’s final practice of the preseason on Tuesday, Lee explained how his offensive energy can help set the pace early on for the C’s.

“I’m looking to go out there and press the issue a little bit and be aggressive to help our team get off to a good start,” said Lee. “I think that having such a young team and having so many young guys come off the bench… something that we saw in preseason that was a trend was when the starters set the tone with energy, the second unit did a much better job of coming in and having that same energy.”

The offensive tenacity was high from the get-go during just about every exhibition game over the last few weeks. Lee felt the Celtics were outplayed intensity-wise during only one contest. That game was against his former team, the New York Knicks, who handed the Boston its only loss of the preseason.

“It’s up to the starters to set the tone of how hard we need to play and how crisp we need to be from the start,” said Lee. “And then when coach goes to the bench, those guys have something good to watch and follow up.”

Not only should Lee provide that offensive spark to the starting rotation, but the 32-year-old will also bring veteran leadership to a potential starting five that features no other player older than 25.

That veteran experience includes a 2015 NBA Championship with Golden State, and numerous ups and downs along the way while with the Knicks and Warriors respectively.

Stevens explained, “[Not] only the championship experience is good, but it’s also good to have experiences where your teams haven’t been as good or maybe they went through tough times and progressed well as the season went along. So I think we’ll lean on David in that regard.”

Matured Smart also Adds to Starting Rotation

Lee’s presence won’t be the only boost to the starting lineup, as a more experienced Smart is expected to carry a heavier role this season.

Lee noted that on defense, Smart is a “game-changing guard,” while on offense, he sees him developing at a high rate.

“The biggest thing for him is just going to be pace-wise, knowing when to really push the ball and knowing when to get us into offense,” said Lee.

Avery Bradley, who started alongside Smart for most of last season, said setting that pace is “the toughest thing for the younger guards, especially for Marcus. You always hear people on the sidelines telling him 'push the ball, push the ball,' but he has to learn to pick his spots.

“He’s getting better at it and it’s definitely going to be a strength to this team because we have a lot of athletic guards that can push the tempo, and I know that Marcus is going to continue to get better and he’s going to be one of the best guards in the NBA.”

With the addition of Lee and the constant maturing of Smart, there should no longer be the worry of whether or not this Celtics team is capable of getting off to a quick start.

And when they come flying out of the gates, that will help set the tone for the second unit and so on.

When that happens, the team becomes a machine, and according to Bradley, “When a team becomes like a machine, it’s hard to guard.”

“I feel like we’re getting there,” he added. “We're still a ways from it, but once we get to that point it’s going to be hard for a team to guard us because we’re going through every play hard.”

That effort showed throughout the entire preseason for the C’s; now we can finally see how it pays off when the regular season tips off Wednesday night.

With a potential boost to the starting rotation, we’ll get a good look at how this group can set the pace and hopefully kick the team off to a strong start to the 2015-16 campaign.

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