BOSTON — The hot topic Wednesday after the Celtics’ disappointing loss to the Detroit Pistons was head coach Brad Stevens’ rotation, which Isaiah Thomas admitted has been inconsistent for much of the season.
David Lee can attest to that.
The veteran forward, acquired via trade from the NBA champion Golden State Warriors this offseason, has seen his minutes — and success — ebb and flow in Boston’s crowded frontcourt. The rotation hasn’t been kind to Lee of late, as he hasn’t played in the last two games.
Lee said Stevens told him ahead of time he wasn’t going to see action, as the Celtics coach wanted to go small at power forward with Jonas Jerebko and Kelly Olynyk.
“That was his theory on some changes he wanted to make after us losing a couple of games,” Lee told a small group of reporters after Wednesday’s game, via ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg. “So I told him while I disagree with it, I also told him he’s the coach and can choose to do that.”
Lee’s name has been floated as a potential trade piece for vice president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, which, given his lack of playing time recently, makes sense. The two-time All-Star, who also was squeezed out of minutes in Golden State but admitted this situation is “a bit more frustrating,” was asked if he had thought about requesting a trade.
“We’ll see moving forward how permanent this is,” Lee said. “Obviously, I’m very confident I can help a team win. I’d love for that to be the Boston Celtics. So no, I haven’t spoken about that. Right now, it’s just about continuing to be ready, and if that was talked about, that would be between my agent and the Celtics and other teams.”
Let’s hit a few other notes from Celtics-Pistons:
— Inconsistent minutes may be an issue for Boston, but inconsistent play doomed the C’s Wednesday.
The Celtics shot 61 percent in the first quarter and seemed on pace for another strong offensive output. Yet things went downhill from there, as Boston shot 32 percent in the second quarter, just 23 percent in the third and 33 percent in the fourth while missing key shots down the stretch.
“We didn’t maintain good play,” Stevens said. “You have to maintain good play for 48 minutes to win a game.”
“We’ve just got to play a full 48 (minutes),” forward Amir Johnson added. “To beat teams, get a lead, sort of relax, you know, we can’t do that. It’s starting to get real tiring.”
— Free throws killed the normally reliable Celtics late in the game. Boston entered the fourth quarter having made 16 of 19 free throw attempts but made just 4 of 8 in the final 12 minutes. Thomas was responsible for three of those misses, while Marcus Smart missed a freebie with 50 seconds left and the C’s trailing by one.
— TD Garden has been a strangely difficult place for the Celtics to play this season.
Wednesday’s loss dropped Boston to 9-10 at home, and the Celtics now have lost three consecutive home games to the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets and Pistons. The club has enjoyed a 10-6 road record, however.
“The road is good for you, just because you’re all you’ve got,” Thomas said. “It’s like you against the world. But like Coach always says, we’ve got to protect home, somehow, some way. These fans are too loyal and too good for us to be giving away games at the Garden. There’s no excuses. We’ve got to figure it out.”
— If Lee doesn’t get more playing time, it appears he has a backup plan.
The Celtics forward told reporters before the game he had just bought $100 worth of Powerball tickets and joked if his locker was cleared out after the game, everyone would know he won.
Thumbnail photo via Sam Sharpe/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics forward center David Lee (42) looks to drive to the basket as he is defended by Charlotte hornets forward center Spencer Hawes (00) during the first half of the game at Time Warner Cable Arena.