BOSTON – With his back against the wall, Brad Stevens is finally making a lineup change, starting Jae Crowder for Marcus Smart. Smart was late to shoot around Saturday due to a failure to suspend sleeping activities that morning.
Stevens said Crowder was already scheduled to start at that point, but it is nonetheless a lapse that comes with the worst possible timing.
"I’m not worried about [Smart] at all and Jae would’ve started anyway," Stevens said.
When asked whether Crowder would start on LeBron James, Stevens played coy. The coach said he did not know who would start on LeBron, but both Crowder and Turner will be switching assignments on him throughout the game.
"Whether [Crowder] starts or not, he plays the same way," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "They’re in a situation where they have to do something different."
Smart was apologetic before the game, taking responsibility for his actions and saying he would be ready to play the game like it’s his last when he gets in.
"I think coach just made the right decision and it was my fault," Smart said. "I went and apologized to the team, coaching staff and everybody. I gotta take the consequences like a man."
Smart also respects the call by Stevens to start Crowder, saying, "Jae’s our best defender on LeBron right now."
The Celtics will need all the muscle they can get, as LeBron is proving to be an unstoppable force. But one key area that can be contained is late game defensive rebounding. Tristan Thompson has buried the Celtics late in each game with his booty, a problem that Jared Sullinger would be the prime candidate to solve.
Sullinger injured his tailbone in a crash with Kevin Love in Game 3, but announced just before the Game 4 Sunday that he was ready to play.
"I just went up; just tried to wrap up Love and I flipped and fell on my backside," Sullinger said. "Lucky enough, I have a big enough ass to the point that it didn’t hurt that bad and I had my Isaiah type injury. I was able to bounce back in two days."
With a healthy booty in tow, Sullinger and the Celtics have one last chance to bounce back and send the series back to Cleveland.