In the aftermath of the Boston-Cleveland series, there was much talk about the contrast between the continuity of the C’s starting five, intact since the 2007-08 season, and that of the Cavaliers, which had precious little time to get to know each other at the end of the regular season.
And for a starting line-up, expected to play 30 or 40 minutes together in big games, that lack of continuity is probably an issue.
But it might not be an issue for every sort of unit. Take the Nate Robinson-Ray Allen-Tony Allen-Glen Davis-Rasheed Wallace unit that played the first 9:10 of the 4th quarter of Game 4 and outscored the Lakers by 8 points in that span.
Before that 9:10 stint in Game 4, that unit had played about 13 minutes together combined in the regular season and playoffs, according to Basketball Value’s line-up data for the playoffs and the regular season.
So much for chemistry and knowing each other’s tendencies and all that mythical stuff about understanding where another player is going to cut just from the look in their eye, huh?
This suddenly famous five-some spent all of 6:15 together in the entire regular season, and there was nothing in that 6:15 to suggest they’d be anything special. They outscored opponents 14-13 over that 6:15, according to Basketball Value. In a tiny sample size, they looked like a unit that could score well but might have problems defending.
And as I had pointed out earlier, most of the Celtics negative (in plus/minus terms) post-season line-ups included the Big Baby/Sheed combination up front.
And yet, the five-man group held the Lakers to 15 points over the first 9:10 of the 4th quarter.
Think about this again for a second: With Boston’s season essentially on the line, Doc Rivers tossed out a line-up that had basically zero prior experience playing together.
We’ll see that group again in Game 5, I’d expect.