You can almost hear the words coming from the commentators of the underrated movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story if they were to replace Mike and Scal on tonight's Celtics broadcast.
Cotton McKnight: I'm being told that the Boston Celtics do not have everyone available tonight and instead will be starting their best players.
Pepper Brooks: It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em.
The Celtics rolled out a new starting lineup against the Indiana Pacers, but the new look did nothing to change the team's trend of starting slow in games. After averaging only 20 points in the first quarter through three games, Boston scored a mere 16 in the opening frame with this new starting unit.
With Marcus Smart sidelined with a toe injury, Isaiah Thomas finally got his first start in a Celtics uniform. The pint-sized point guard took some time to get going while he readjusted to being a starter, but exploded in the second quarter for 14 of his game-high 27 points.
Coach Brad Stevens went with a new front court, with Jared Sullinger and Amir Johnson getting the start. The duo has been drastically outplaying David Lee and Tyler Zeller this season, but neither of them gave Boston the boost they were hoping for to begin the game. Sullinger and Johnson combined for only 4 points and 4 rebounds in the first half, which was surpassed by Lee and Zeller in 15 fewer minutes.
The first half can essentially be summed up by Jae Crowder's full-court inbounds pass that banked off the backboard and through the hoop, resulting in the game's longest turnover in the final seconds of the half. There's something we've never seen before, but unfortunately it just didn't work.
The new starting unit looked a lot more comfortable together to start the second half, putting up 29 third quarter points to cut the Pacers' lead down to 1 entering the fourth.
New starting unit caught a groove to start the second half, so Stevens rode it for the first 8:24 of the quarter. C's outscored IND 20-16.— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) November 5, 2015
Paul George is starting to round back into form after missing nearly the entire 2014-15 season with a gruesome leg injury. He dominated the first half, but foul trouble limited him in the third quarter when the Celtics made their run to get back into the game. George was quiet for most of the second half until a crushing corner three with about two minutes left in the game put the Pacers up by 4. It was George's 5th three-pointer of the game, giving him a team-high 26 points.
Avery Bradley showed no ill-effects of the hand injury that had him questionable heading into the game. He answered George's three-pointer and added a 20-footer jumper off the dribble on the next possession to tie the game with just over a minute to go.
After Monta Ellis put the Pacers back ahead with a pair of free throws, Boston had one last chance to tie or win the game. Bradley went for it all with a step-back three, but his shot came up short and so did the Celtics.
Boston falls to their third straight loss as their early season woes continue. With 12 players seeing time on the court, including 10 that saw double-digit minutes, it's clear that Stevens is still trying to figure out his rotations regardless of who starts. Switching up his starters was a bold move, but tonight it didn't quite pay off.