Design an ideal lineup of Celtics (not just an All-Time list, but the players that would compliment each other perfectly).
Jeremy Stevens: The Garnett-Era Celtics were nearly flawless, but you can always make adjustments to fit today’s league. A score-first point guard in Isaiah is essential. Bigs like Garnett and Horford who can pass the ball and stretch the floor are non-negotiable. From there, you can fill out the lineup whoever you want, and I think it’s more important for those pieces to co-exist with the point guard rather than the big men, so we have Eddie House as a designated catch-and-shoot guy with Tony Allen to pick up the slack on perimeter defense. I also like the contrast of Thomas, House, and Garnett as instigators and trash-talkers with Horford as the voice of reason (Allen falls somewhere in the middle). Paul Pierce - my favorite athlete of all time - could obviously replace Allen here, but my hypothetical Isaiah-centric system can only handle so many ball-dominant guys off the ball. Garnett has the best track record of any Celtic I’ve seen of taking a lesser role for the good of the team.
Tim MacLean: Rajon Rondo/Reggie Lewis/Paul Pierce/Larry Bird/Kevin Garnett. Rondo (when he used to try on defense) and Lewis would make for an excellent tandem on the perimeter defensively, running ball handlers off the 3-point line and funneling them into the lane where KG would be waiting. Rondo’s assist-hunting nature would also compliment the rest of the lineup perfectly, with Lewis, Pierce, Bird and KG all above average to elite scorers. They’d be fascinating to watch in transition, too. All of them can handle the ball to a certain degree and seeing Rondo, Lewis and Bird running in transition would be awesome.
Greg Brueck-Cassoli: I’ll take Russell/Garnett/Bird/Pierce/IT against just about anyone. Really give me Russell and Garnett and any three bodies you want. No one is scoring with those two patrolling the back line. I picked Bird and Pierce for their size and all-around games, and tossed in IT because I’m sucker for the Little Guy. As an added bonus, not a soul in that five would be scared facing off against any opponent.
Jeff Clark: Peak Rondo is my point guard because he would get everyone involved and do all the other little things needed to win (including defense). I love the idea of pairing Kevin Garnett and Bill Russell together in their primes. Brings a tear to my eye, really. Then of course I would “fill out” the lineup with Pierce and Bird because of their versatility and floor stretching shooting. I’m amazed at the names I’m leaving out and snubbing here. What a stacked lineup of legends this franchise has enjoyed through the years.
Keith Smith: Rajon Rondo/Reggie Lewis/Larry Bird/Kevin Garnett/Kevin McHale. Rondo runs the show. He probably rarely shoots, which fits him perfectly. Lewis is the main wing defender and gets his point by running the floor and cutting off others. Bird does what Bird always did. Garnett does all the defensive dirty work, while also knocking down jumpers and making rim-runs. And McHale either dominates inside or knocks down a better-than-you-remember jumper. This group has the perfect mix of offense, defense, rebounding, passing and varying styles of play.
Bobby Manning: History week and the Kyrie Irving saga reminded me how phenomenal Rajon Rondo played with the Celtics in peak form. His temperament and quiet departure compare lightly to last year’s earthquake. It’s difficult to pick another point guard to connect every facet of Celtics history based on how he commanded my era’s Big 3. It’s tempting to let Bird or Pierce man the point here to slide in a shooter like Ray Allen, but I’ll fall in line and allow expertise to reign here.
Since even Rondo’s peak shooting was suspect, I’ll pair him with Pierce playing the two and Bird at the three. Al Horford will slot in at the four, with Kevin Garnett battling at the modern five. Horford’s switching alongside Garnett’s rebounding and rim protection could make this an all-time defensive grouping, with size that would not sacrifice too much offense. Through both Doc Rivers and Brad Stevens, I’ve watched the Celtics win with defensive-first teams that solved the offensive puzzle later. It’s only right the all-time Celtics starters reflect that attitude.