Alright, folks. I’ve got some things to say.
I know that Brad Stevens is notoriously experimental with his early season lineups and is evidently comfortable with losing early season games if it means winning more important games later on. That being said, some of these lineups are driving me insane.
First, the Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson pairing. The Celtics gave up 33 points in the first quarter in the second game against the Pistons with their double-big starting lineup and 32 in the fourth. The only quarter in which the Celtics gave up less than thirty points was 24 in the second, in which Theis didn’t play at all and Thompson played about three minutes.
Boston’s lead grew with the Theis/Thompson lineup on the floor in the third, and then disappeared again when Thompson - but not Theis - played his first minutes in the fourth. With all due respect to Jerami Grant and the leap he’s taken, I don’t see any reason why the Celtics continue to give up so many drives to players they’re typically equipped to deal with. Maybe they’d rather have Theis try his hand at guarding Grant in order to save the Jays on offense, who could stand to have less workload after a short offseason. Either way, it’s weird, not working, and I’m sort of scared to see what happens against the Raptors tomorrow.
Second, the Tatum/Teague/Pritchard/Ojeleye/Williams lineup looks really rough at times. Staggering Tatum and Brown’s minutes is the only way Boston could survive the first half, so there’s at least one positive here, but running four bench players plus Tatum creates a lot of problems on both ends of the floor, but is easily avoidable.
Payton Pritchard has been a pleasant surprise no doubt, but committed five fouls in 28 minutes. Grant Williams has struggled, but played zero minutes. Don’t these things feel a little lopsided? And with how weird the Theis/Thompson lineup has looked, are we sure Grant can’t get at least five minutes here and there to stagger those guys?
One interesting lineup note that ultimately won’t mean much is that Stevens took Ojeleye out of the game to bring in the Thompson/Theis lineup right before the Tatum game-winner. They replaced Thompson with Pritchard after the timeout, but that’s still interesting in it’s own way. Why switch from Ojeleye to Thompson on offense? And why the sudden shift back to Pritchard on the last play?
Lost in all the lineup shenanigans is Jaylen Brown getting iced out of having another monster game. Individual point totals generally don’t matter, but perhaps it wouldn’t have taken as much effort to beat a heinously stinky Pistons roster if the guy who shot 9-for-11 in the first half got more than five shot attempts in the second half. Even if my opinions on lineups are too over-reactive, I stand by this as an exceptionally poor use of Jaylen’s minutes.
They’ll be fine when Kemba comes back. They’ll be even better when Ainge puts the TPE to use. A lot of teams are stumbling right now, so there’s no rush to go on a massive winning streak. Still, none of that will stop me from complaining on the internet.