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Nine Best Men

 

As Brian noted yesterday in an interview with WEEI, Doc Rivers plans on rolling nine deep in the playoffs.  This is not exactly “breaking news” considering Rivers is known for his short bench, small rotations, hesitation with playing five bench players at once, playing starters heavy minutes, and yanking players when they miss defensive assignments.

I don’t necessarily blame him.  I’ve been playing a lot of “Words with Friends” lately and I know when I’m down by a lot, with less than 20 letters left,  I’m not wasting my time getting cute-sy with “VAN” or “ON” even though the “N” may complete an already existing word (like “WOVEN”).   I’m bringing out the big guns.  I’m putting that “V” on a triple letter square and then hitting a triple word with another part of the word.  I’m using all seven letters.  I am NOT messing around.   That’s right, I’m dropping “EVASION” on yo ass! (Eat it Colin!).  77 points.

Doc Rivers will need to use his best lineup, his best chance to win games, as much as possible. After picking up so many players (presumably able to make an impact) the question becomes, who are these nine guys?  What tiles does Doc Rivers use?

Yesterday, Rivers specifically said, “All the guys we don’t need to fit, honestly. When we go to the playoffs were going to go to nine guys anyway, for the most part. I have 20 games to figure out which ones have the value.”

I want to know who he’s kidding.  If he’s only going nine deep, starter’s included, then his bench is already set.  Here’s the lineup:

Starters:

Rajon Rondo

Ray Allen

Paul Pierce

Kevin Garnett

Shaquille O’Neal


Bench:

Glen Davis

Jeff Green

Nenad Krstic

Delonte West

Odd Men Out:

Von Wafer

Jermaine O’Neal

Carlos Arroyo

Troy Murphy

Avery Bradley

Sasha Pavlovic

Do you see it breaking down any other way?  Do you see any way any of the “Odd Men Out” crack the playoff rotation?  Could Doc add more guys to the rotation or are guys getting bounced?  How do these other players feel about this idea?

Jermaine O’Neal has said he’s going to be ready for the playoffs, which is great.  Although, by my calculations, the dude is not getting off the bench.  Could Doc Rivers use some of these players during the first two rounds to preserve the legs of his triple word scorers?

What do ya’ll think?

  • kricky

    Because of Shaq's limited minutes and Curly's defensive woes I could see the Center position turning into a 3 headed monster and JO getting minutes. That is, if he ever comes back……

  • renit

    shame, I am really into some of the odd men out.

    • kricky

      I agree fully with your statement. Even if it sounds gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that.. LOL

  • Zain

    The real question, Brendan, is what is your Words with Friends username?

    I WANT to believe Jermaine will be useful and crack the rotation for 5-10 minutes, but I really don't know. The top 9 you listed seems like a sure thing, but I'm sure foul trouble will extend the bench when it occurs.

  • Jamie

    A big factor is matchup. Shaq probably will not play a lot unless we get Orlando, Chicago or Miami because the other east teams don't really have a big man and will just go small. Indiana, Philly, NY etc more Kristic/JO at the 5 to space the floor.

    Murphy Wafer Pavlovic Bradley definitely out.

  • Batman

    I think Jermaine will defintely get minutes

  • Cos

    for some reason i get the sense pavlovic is going to get a little more than some minutes. we obviously havent seen enough from him on the court but with what little I've seen it seems like hes playing like he has more to prove than anyone else of the odd men out (and green).

    As for green, he seems lost on defense, doesn't close out well enough, or help with purpose. seems to lack intensity on the defensive end. Maybe KG gives him a behind the scenes "teaching moment" like he did with baby a few years back.

  • Rav

    Which 3 of the odd men out do you think should round out the active list?

    I go for Von, Jermaine and Murphy. Jermaine has been here since the beginning, and if he regains a modicum of health and is not too rusty he's the best of the 6. Von has played hard and showed he deserves to be a Celtic. Murphy is probably worse than Pavlovic, Arroyo and Bradley, but a) he is a big man, and bigs get into foul trouble b) he is a floor-spacer/mismatch-causer, which always helps and c) he signed thinking he'd get to play in the playoffs for the first time, so I guess we promised.

    • NHBluesMan

      he'll get to the playoffs, but there's no promise he'll play. He's the player with the longest active streak of not reaching the playoffs at all

  • wharpua

    It’s a shame that Von went down and will be out for a while, as I thought he had turned into a dependable bench player who had logged derby minutes within the system.

    I’ve been a big Delonte guy since he broke into the league with the Cs, but his lack of playing time gives me pause- difficult to weigh his exposure to the team in practice vs. people like Arroyo and Pavlovic, who demonstrated an immediate hunger to contribute on the court in the LAC game.

    • kricky

      I'm with you on Von. He has shown real improvement this year. Especially on D. Great hands. How many balls did he knock loose leading to steals?

      It's such a pity he got injured. He was really working his way into the regular rotation. Hopefully he can bounce back.

  • Chris O

    I completely agree with the 9 man analysis. I also agree Von and a big will round out the 12 man. However I think Pav breaks the 12 man. Arroyo and Bradley will def be the 14th and 15th respectively. I think if JO has any semblence of health he will be the 5th (true not Jeff Green) big, and will get mins when needed. If not those will go to Murph. Von and Pav will be the back of hte 12 man. But Pav is too valuable as he can play the 2 or 3 and has seemed reasonably effective. He will come in when Pierce/Ray are in foul trouble for a few mins here in there if Doc wants Green at the 4 or doesn't wnat to go too small (with Delonte and Rondo together). Ultimately I know it will mainly b a 9 man rotation but I wouldn't be shocked ot see Doc go 10/11 deep in the playoffs. The team has the depth and flexibility.

    • Jay P

      Arroyo is gonna play, having another PG is much more useful than having another wing player. Pavlovic basically makes Wafer irrelevant, he's just got more size and is a more useful defender at the wing position.

      West is a better guard than Wafer in every way, and having two legit PGs on the court (whether it's Rondo/Arroyo, Rondo/West, or Arroyo/West) has it's benefits, we've already seen Doc run Rondo and Arroyo out at the same time, in only one game Arroyo's been here. It's clear he likes the idea of having two ball handlers on the floor together.

      Wafer will not be playing, and I won't be shocked if he's not even dressed int he 12-man roster.

      • Chris O

        Jay P, Doc didn't choose to run Arroyo/Rondo for its benefits. He HAD TO because both Wafer and Delonte are injured. Running a 2nd PG with Rondo is not always the best solution because Rondo can't shoot so really shouldn't be playing off the ball often and most other points are used to having the ball to be effective. There are always benefits to going small but that Arroyo/Rondo thing was because RAY RAY needed to rest at some point and they only had 3 active guards (unless you count Avery). All 15 MIGHT play but Arroyo is your 3rd string PG. Wafer was playing well and is a much better offensive scorer and more athletic than Arroyo and Pav. Personally i live Pav better because he can legit play the 2 and 3 but Wafer should be on the 12 man.

  • Jay P

    Wafer is very unlikely to may the rotation at any point in the playoffs.

    Let's be honest, Arroyo stands a much better chance. He's a pure PG, and a guy with playoff experience running that position. West is a far better player than Wafer, so if Doc's going to run another SG out from the bench, he's going to use West, and have Arroyo spell Rondo.

    I expect Doc to go past 9, only because JO and Shaq can't play heavy minutes, and Krstic brings an entirely different offensive presence to the floor. I expect Shaq to start, play about 20 minutes, JO will find spot duty for defensive purposes for 10 minutes or so, and it will be either Krstic, Davis, or KG (if Doc opts for the small ball line up late, with Green at the 4) in crunch time.

    I would bet any money, that Wafer, Bradley, and Murphy don't see the court in the playoffs. Pavlovic will probably dress, and be used only if there's foul trouble. He's just a better "stop gap" to have in reserve, since he has the size to guard the Kobes, Lebron, Dengs of the world.

  • Paul

    Depends on the opponent, expect JO and Murphy to get minutes against Orlando, LA, or San Antonio. Celtics probably lean on Arroyo and Wafer against the Heat or Bulls.

  • http://www.stateoftheceltics.com Ryan

    If Delonte can play in more than five consecutive games, then Wafer's not seeing the court. Of course, that's no guarantee as we've seen so far so Von may get a chance. I love to see Jermaine make an impact, but I've pretty much given up on him doing anything truly productive for this team. The injuries and his play before the injuries haven't given me any hope whatsoever.

    State of the Celtics

  • urbeltic

    Trade Troy back to Jersey for a used pair of sneaks and some of that yummy pop corn they make.

  • Rob

    If that’s the rotation then who’s out there with the big four at the end of the game?

    • Chris

      The way Doc has rolled all year has been to have Baby and the starters on the floor at the 6 minute mark of the 4th. Can't imagine that he'll switch that up too much, unless matchups dictate that it be Green. Expect West in the final minute if the Celts are up for his FT shooting though.

    • Jay P

      Will be match up dependent.

      If he wants speed? Green. If he wants size? Krstic. If he wants interior defense? Baby.

      All depends on how the flow of the game is going, and who's got the hot hand.

    • Chris O

      Yes Rob I don't think it will always be the same person. BBD will be there a lot. Green may make it in some. Delonte could even be in for Rondo if you need the FT shooting as already pointed out by one of our compatriots.

  • Frank

    Murphy, Wafer and Bradley will be DNP's coach's decision the whole way. If JO get's healthy fast enough to get 8 or so games under his belt and he looks ok defensively he will play. I'm extremely doubtful about Delonte staying healthy so I see a potential Arroyo/Pavlovic subbing tandem depending on the situation. I really like Pavlovic and I think we need his D almost as much as we need Delonte's vs Rose etc. Having said that it seems no one can stop him so having Arroyo to keep RR from fouling out is good enough.

  • ElRoz

    Krisic, Davis, Delonte – if can ever play w/o getting hurt immediately – and then I have no idea. Von Wafer knows the C's system better and has shown good games…but Pavlovic is bigger, so IF Pavlovic can adjust and show that he can function and contribute – on both ends – within the system, then he could get the nod over Wafer. JO and Murphy are question marks. Kristic gives better offense to the team, that is very clear.
    Depending on the match-up in a series, Doc might go either Kristic or Murphy or JO.

  • Jay P

    Ya, but he has more talent than anyone else. For 10 minutes or so in a game, we're talking about a former max contract, perennial all star player. He's no slouch, and can bring a lot more to the team. Murphy has never in his life been half the player that JO was. Both might be washed up, but give me a washed up Jermaine Oneal over a washed up Troy Murphy anyday.

  • Jay P

    JO will play rotation minutes, just not a lot of them.

    10 minutes or so a game. They'll bring him in to change the defensive flow a bit, and hopefully create some momentum with some stops. He won't just be garbage time or foul trouble minutes only, like Scal/Sheldon were. He can help the team, just in very short minutes, since his conditioning probably wont be game ready, and you have to worry about the knees.

    • Chris

      There are definitely situations where I would like to see JO. The Lakers reminded us a few weeks ago that their length can be tough to handle. Baby/KG is the crunch-time big duo, but I could certainly see instances where JO is used as a situational rebounder. It's a role that we still haven't filled and it would be great to squeeze that last bit out of JO, assuming he has anything left.

  • CsFanInArkansas

    I don't care if it's Murph, Arroyo, Bradley, Von and JO on that beautiful floor in the Garden during the playoffs…….as long as Gino's dancing…….

    • Chris O

      Hahaha let em kno!!!!

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