The Celtics haven’t opened up the new season like they hoped.
Boston is 2-3 so far on the year and while the offense has shown minimal signs of rust, the defense hasn’t been as fortunate, to say the least. Through five games the Celtics currently sit in sixth place in the league with 114.2 points per game, but on the other hand they’ve allowed an eye-popping 119 points per game putting them just in front of the Los Angeles Lakers who are the cellar dwellers of the NBA at 119.6 points per game allowed.
To be fair to the Celtics, they already have had to deal with a bevy of injuries or illnesses to open the season to the rotation, namely Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and most recently Marcus Smart, which probably would mess up any team’s defensive strategy.
The Celtics did roll out an almost fully-healthy lineup Wednesday against the Washington Wizards, but still allowed 116 points in the tough loss. With seemingly some change to the rotation necessary to slow down the opposition — especially without the services of Smart — here’s one scenario that could be done to slow down the Wizards.
With Smart unavailable, the seamless transition will be to insert the red-hot Dennis Schröder into the starting lineup. From there, continue with the typical alignment of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams but include Josh Richardson instead of Al Horford.
The Wizards’ starting lineup is wing heavy with only one big man in Daniel Gafford, but their bench can burn you with Montrezl Harrell and Davis Bertans coming in along with guard Aaron Holiday. Harrel poured in a game-high 25 points Wednesday.
With Horford coming off the bench to anchor the second unit, the rest of the rotation would include minutes in descending order to Payton Pritchard, Grant Williams and Aaron Nesmith while always keeping one of Tatum or Brown on the court at once. Jabari Parker also has been impressive lately and if the squad is lacking offense could come in and make an impact, but with Horford coming off of the bench the big man minutes may be scarce.
It’s obviously not a perfect science and without Smart that makes things even murkier, but the move of Horford to the bench — at least for this clash with the Wizards — should shore up the bench minutes while also effectively taking the Washington bench out of the game.
We’ll just have to wait until Saturday night to see if I have a future in constructing an NBA rotation or if I should stick with my day job.