The sudden retirement of Keyon Dooling allowed the Celtics to bring in Darko Milicic without having to take away a seat on the bench for one of the young players in camp. However, it also left them without a "true" backup point guard. This is a concern for Doc Rivers.
"I like his skill set, but honestly I’m concerned about our backup point; I thought so far, the way we’ve played, Jason Terry is handling the ball a lot," Rivers said before the Celtics’ 105-75 win over Emporio Armani Milano Sunday. "I don’t want that. I want him to be a scorer and I think him handling the ball takes away his best ability. And as a staff, we have to figure out something better for him. Courtney Lee the same way, I don’t want him overhandling it either, and right now with Avery [Bradley] out, we’re kinda stuck. "We have to figure that one out as a staff and put them in better spots, and I think that is on us more than them. But when Avery comes back, when those four guys come together, that’s a pretty good crew. I would say the best guard crew I’ve had since I’ve been in Boston."
This seems to be a different take than we heard before the European trip. At first there were whispers that the team would look for a backup point guard. Then there was word that the team was happy with what they had because Terry could play the point at times.
Terry himself is downplaying any concerns and playing the role of good teammate in his willingness to try anything.
“I’m not Doc, but the ability of us to play different lineups is great,” he said. “The NBA game is all about matchups. On certain nights, I’ll have to come off the bench and they have bigger guards, and we’ll be at a disadvantage. When your number is called, be ready.
Still, it seems that seeing the team actually on the floor has changed Doc's mind again.
Getting Avery back healthy again does give us more options and a deep guard rotation, but I'm not sure that he's any better suited to run the point than Terry or Lee. The best you can hope for is another fresh pair of legs to bring the ball up over halfcourt to hand it off to someone else to initiate the offensive set. That's not a fluid option and probably bogs down the offense. It also makes things somewhat predictable - at least for a while.
It also leads to very creative (ie. difficult) ways of running the offense. Doc had Darko "running the point" at times. You could see Jeff Green initiating the offense at times. We all know that Pierce can direct traffic if he needs to. None of that is ideal but they are short term workarounds at least.
With Rondo setting the bar so high, it is clear that the offense is going to downshift with him out of the lineup. We just need to make sure that the dropoff isn't so significant that we run into the same +/- differentials that we did last year.
The team has also played with having Jamar Smith and Dionte Christmas run some point, but even in preseason Doc doesn't seem comfortable with either guy on the court right now.
How about options from outside the team? You'd hate to disrupt the chemistry and bonding that occurred overseas, but talent wins out in this league. Who's left out there that could contribute to this team?
It is an interesting element to keep an eye on for the rest of the preseason. Can we get by with Terry, Lee, and scotch tape? Or do we need more help?