Terry & Sullinger playing with Big Three: Doc suggests possibility of several starting lineups

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

After the media was allowed into today's practice, many reported that Jason Terry and Jared Sullinger were playing with the starters and Doc hinted to playing with several starting lineups.

I definitely read something into this. As Doc pointed out after inserting Sullinger into the starting lineup and more specifically, with Kevin Garnett:

Doc trying not to paint Sullinger into box

"We try to protect him so that won't happen," said Rivers. "The reason we played him with Kevin (Garnett) in the second quarter is because the bigger guy was always guarding Kevin. We got the matchup that way."

This is Doc at his best. He understands that for Sullinger to utilize his skills as an offensive rebounder, it's best to play him opposite a player that will command double teams. Whether he actually unseats Brandon Bass in the starting lineup (doubtful) or playing with KG becomes a natural genesis of the 5-5-5 plan, you're going to see this often in the regular season: Garnett getting the ball at the high block, Sullinger's defender shading towards him, and Sullinger cutting along the baseline for a quick hitter at the rim.

Sliding Bass into the second unit or at least playing him alongside Darko, Terry, and Lee gives the bench another scorer and spaces the floor more so than Sullinger. Outside of Milicic, all those guys are great jump shooters and floor spacing will allow them to either pull up off a pick or drive the open lane.

And as I write this post, Doc says:

Celtics’ Jeff Green contributing off the bench - Celtics - Boston.com

“That was terrific [to see the bench thrive]. With our team, we’re just going to keep searching. In the past, we had to search for the right starting lineup. I think this year we have to search for the right second lineup and we may take a starter out of the starting lineup and play him in the second lineup because it may fit him better. It will be interesting. We’re just going to keep moving guys around.”

This makes a lot of sense. He's going to be tinkering with this well into the season. He's got a team with a variety of talent and a selfless bunch of guys that only care about winning a championship. It's not about putting the "best" players on the court; it's more important to surround players with the best complements that bring out the best outcome for the entire team. As evidence from Italy, Sullinger works best with Garnett at the top of the key and playmakers like Rondo, Terry, and Pierce. Jeff Green excelled coming off the bench with guys that could open up the court (Lee) and set strong picks (Bass, Darko) to free him up to attack the paint. Doc's also hinting at a starting lineup that could feature Darko at the 5 and Garnett at his more traditional power forward position. That'll be the answer to bigger teams like Philly and the Lakers.

Some other practice notes from today:

Avery's itching to play and we're all itching to see him. All signs point to him recovering quicker than expected, but I'm sure Doc will douse our enthusiasm today with a "despite what the doctors say or Avery thinks, he's still got some work to do."

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