The Boston Celtics suffered a hard-fought road loss to the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night, and although the team had a shot to win or tie at the end of the game, the Celtics still looked pretty out of sorts. The Celtics had a new starting lineup last night (Marcus Smart was out with a toe injury). The team started Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger and Amir Johnson.
Thomas, Sullinger, and Johnson were the new additions into the starting lineup. Coach Brad Stevens is definitely trying to finagle with some new lineups and rotations to see what works. Wednesday night, Thomas in particular showed that he can still create that firepower offense in the starting lineup.
He recorded 27 points and seven assists, while his backcourt partner in Bradley poured in 21 points.
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The backcourt looked good Wednesday night, but the Pacers kept going at Thomas on defense, which is why Smart is so valuable as a point guard; his ability to be a lockdown defender. Sullinger played pretty well in the frontcourt by putting up nine points, 11 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in 27 minutes played.
Johnson tweaked his ankle and did not contribute much in 21 minutes played. It was hard to tell Wednesday night which rotations worked because the team is still looking to find their identity and rhythm with their deep roster.
12 players deep
Coach Stevens played 12 players last night, which was the amount of active players on the roster (except Smart, who was out with an injury). He is trying to do a lot with these lineups to try and find the best fit, he even gave the rookies a chance to play last night. R.J. Hunter played 13 minutes and Terry Rozier played six minutes.
Neither filled the stat sheet; Rozier went 0-for-4 from the field and had two turnovers, while Hunter only tacked on two points and one turnover. Hunter did play some crunch-time minutes, and he played pretty good defense. He had a big call against him late in the game, where he hit a runner on the baseline, but he was called for a charge against the Pacers.
Neither Hunter, his dad Ron Hunter, nor Stevens were pleased with the call.
So, both Hunter and Rozier saw the court more than Tyler Zeller, who was not in the starting lineup for the first time this season. He only played three minutes last night and he has been struggling from the field. He is averaging 4.0 points and 0.8 rebounds per game (unacceptable), and he is a shooting a miserable 37.5 percent from the field.
The frontcourt has been struggling on offense, and this is where Stevens must find a consistent duo that can help out on both ends during the floor. David Lee played well Wednesday off the bench by scoring 10 points, but then Kelly Olynyk struggled mightily from the floor by going 0-for-5 from the field in 11 minutes.
The playing time for these frontcourt players has been changing every game, and Johnson, Sullinger, and Lee have averaged the most minutes per game in the frontcourt. Sullinger, Lee, and Johnson are the main players in the frontcourt so far this season, and some of the other players like Olynyk and Zeller have to find their groove.
The Celtics are 1-3, which is not ideal to start the season, but the backcourt showed that they are starting to find their shot last night. Both Thomas and Bradley shot 5o percent from the field Wednesday night and Thomas went 4-for-7 from deep, while Bradley went 3-for-8. Crowder shot 60 percent from the field and Evan Turner shot 50 percent from the field as well.
The Celtics’ backcourt is hitting shots, and this was particularly evident against the Pacers. The main backcourt contributors played well last night, even without Smart. Boston is shooting 29.2 percent from deep as whole this season, which is 24th in the NBA. The team must step up their three-point shooting still, but they did make strides in their shooting Wednesday night.
Boston is also shooting 40.2 percent from the field for the season after last night, which is 27th in the league. Shooting must improve from the frontcourt and backcourt, but the backcourt showed that they are starting to shoot better.
Celtics will try to get back on track on Friday at home against the Washington Wizards, who are 3-1 this season. The Wizards are coming off a big win over the San Antonio Spurs, who dismantled the Celtics, but Stevens and the Celtics will be ready for the Wizards.
The bad news so far this season is that the Celtics are 1-3 (which is disappointing), but there is some good news…