The Boston Celtics have reeled off four wins in-a-row after dropping the first game of the season to the Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia pounded Boston on the glass to the tune of 62-41, and yet I think the C’s need to almost abandon the center position all together.
I’ll admit it would be GREAT if one of Robert Williams or Enes Kanter evolved into a major part of the team’s rotation. Moreover, it would be ideal if Williams turned into that player because his athleticism is something Boston could really use.
However, I also am a proponent of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” And right now the Celtics are thriving with some of their smaller lineups. According to NBA Stats some of Boston’s best five-man lineups feature complete units with players 6-foot 8-inches and smaller. Granted, five games worth of stats are misleading. But if you peel back some of the numbers you’ll find:
- Grant Williams rules. A Smart-Brown-Tatum-Edwards-Grant lineup has a 49.5 Net Rating. Additionally, Hayward-Brown-Walker-Tatum-Grant has a 77.3 Net Rating.
- Daniel Theis is also a nice positive. Reminder: he is listed at 6’8″.
- Boston is in the middle-of-the-pack in rebounding and at the bottom in rebounding differential. However, the Celtics are in the top-10 in terms of opponent field goal percentage.
Guys like Smart and Grant Williams give you a ton of positional flexibility on the defensive end. We’ve watched Smart for years battle with centers in the low post. He already stood toe-to-toe with Giannis. Frankly, Smart spearheaded that comeback with his usual Smart-ness. Grant is a similarly versatile player, especially on the defensive end. When he starts knocking down three’s then you’ll see it translate to both sides of the floor.
Ultimately, it comes back to what Adam Himmelsbach said on Celtics Beat this week, “If you watch League Pass on any given night you’ll see a lot of teams where the tallest player on the court is 6’6″.”
“There’s no question, and Brad said this, his five best players are those four starters and Marcus Smart. If it’s crunch time, and there’s a chance for you to have your five best players on the court together, and there’s a way to do it sustainably, why would you do it?”
Kaufman and Himmelsbach tackle this subject and a whole bunch more on this week’s Celtics Beat. Make sure you subscribe to the show on iTunes and Stitcher! And make sure you follow Adam on Twitter here!
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