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Practice Report: Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger Will Stay in Starting Lineup

 

After having about 48 hours off to collect themselves and recover from a tough game both on and off the floor Sunday afternoon, the Celtics were back at it practicing today in Waltham, as they tried to figure out how to move forward without the services of Rajon Rondo.

Luckily, the atmosphere was less doom and gloom and more of an opportunity to turn a lackluster season around without their All-Star point guard after playing sub .500 basketball for the past 45 games with him. With potential major deals looming less than a month away if the team’s subpar play continues, the team knows it has to show what it can do right away, to lower the possibility a large portion of the veteran roster will be sent packing.

As far as roster developments surrounding the current team goes, there were no new free agents waiting in the wings at practice today. For now, the deep depth chart Danny Ainge constructed will get a chance to showcase their skills over ample minutes at both guard spots, instead of the team turning to a limited talent pool on the free agent market. I asked Rivers about whether increased consistent players would help the backcourt find better consistency.

“Ya, I think consistency always helps,” Doc Rivers explained. “I think it will help Jet in some ways, just because he’ll have the ball at times…probably more. You know, it may hurt some guys, you just don’t know. That’s the unanswered question. I’m hoping it helps some guys but you never know.”

—Courtney Lee will remain in the starting lineup, paired with Avery Bradley, with Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa both waiting on the bench to provide an offensive spark.Barbosa is probably the guy that will see the biggest jump in minutes due to Rondo’s absence and that should come as a relief to most CelticsHub readers (and writers) who have been clamoring for a bigger role for LB for a good amount of time.  Barbosa chose his words carefully (and wisely) when asked about whether an increase in minutes would lead to better production for him on the floor.

“I don’t know about that,” Barbosa acknowledged. “When I get that minutes, that’s when we are going to see. I haven’t been playing a lot of minutes for awhile, but I’ve been learning a lot of things from the team, talking with the coaches., so I kind of know everything that is going on the court. It don’t matter, if I have the minutes, I’ll try to do my best.”

By the way, Rondo’s injury show be cited as THE example on why you don’t give in to playing time complaints or try to deal extra depth on the roster. Imagine if the C’s cut loose Barbosa a few weeks back? They’d be in a bigger hole right now.

—Rivers also confirmed Jared Sullinger will remain in the starting lineup in place of the slumping Brandon Bass for Wednesday’s game against the Kings. Sullinger had seven points, four rebounds, three steals and just one(!) foul against the Heat in 22 minutes tonight. He was sidelined for most of the second half when the C’s went small, but Doc was satisfied with his play.

“He didn’t play a lot. It was the wrong game to really start him, because it ended up being a small ball game. I was happy. I thought he got a terrible tech that he had nothing to do with, but I liked that he was an instigator, I’m all for that,” Rivers said.

The Sully era has begun again in Boston. If he can stay on the floor for 30-35 minutes a night, avoiding cheap fouls, that could be just as crucial as anything to a potential resurgence for this squad over the next few weeks. Bass was semi-useful in the first quarter against Miami off the bench, but will need to start hitting his shot again to see anymore time on the floor if Sullinger’s foul trouble free.

  • Phil725

    I'm very interested to see how Doc juggles the guard rotation now. I love the Lee/Bradley pairing defensively, and for how poorly the starters were playing on the other end, maybe it gives a little spark offensively too. With Pierce and KG in the post, the lineup still has plenty of ball handling.

    The Barbosa/Terry lineup I'm more wary of. It seems like it has similar ball dominance issues that the Rondo/Terry line had, and it scares the hell out of me defensively. The defensive issues get even worse when you factor in they'll be coming in with Brandon Bass and without KG half the time. Sacrifices have to be made though, and I expect Doc to shuffle the guys around as needed. Terry specifically I'd expect to have his minutes go way up.

    • hydrofluoric

      I was pretty f'ing annoyed with Doc when he stuck with Barbosa and Terry in the OTs instead of clamping down hard with Avery and C Lee. That said Wade was so out of wack (and Barbosa and Terry were playing hard enough) that it actually worked out for us. But that was dangerous and I did not enjoy seeing it one bit.

      • Ersatz

        I was a bit worried too, but I think Terry and Barbosa both played great defense in the fourth quarter and overtimes. They made a couple of boneheaded plays, but generally they were where they needed to be. Obviously they aren't nearly as lockdown as Lee and Bradley, but they both always give the effort and seem to be understanding the principles more.

    • check12check

      as long as doc rotates substitutions we should be alright

  • Emmy J.

    I think the Celts will be fine without RR even for the long haul. I know most NBA sports caster are saying that they will not be able to sustain consistent plays without RR but believe it or not, the Celts have a better winning record than with RR in the line up. I like Sully starting along with Lee, Bradley, KG and PP. That's a pretty good starting five. But in order to win more games and hopefully make it to the playoffs we need Green and Bass to play consistently good, if not average, through the remainder of the season. The same applies to Jet. We need him to average at least 14 points a game. Barbosa needs to give us 8 points a game. If we can do that we will be a playoff team and may go as far as the Eastern Finals! Go Celts!,

    • Josh_5

      averaging ppg doesn't mean anything if your not shooting a good percentage (i.e. 14 pts on 14 shots). We will see how guys step up, but as Phil alluded to in an earlier post, more minutes doesn't necessarily translate into more "production".

  • bigticket

    honestly i think doc should run this lineup: lee, bradley,green, sully, garnett. OR bradley, pierce green sully garnett. Hell maybe its time to bring fab melo back up and do lee bradley green/pierce, KG, melo. Pierce off the bench will be deadly against many of the 2nd units out there or a tired out 1st unit and will help to keep him fresh throughout the rest of the season. People want green to start earning his contract? well then stick him in the starting lineup and let him shine or flop but keeping him at this level of minutes will not show any great improvement and his defence is better than pierces in my opinion.

  • NZNICK33

    For offensive/defensive purposes, wouldn’t it make more sense to pair up one of Lee and Bradley with one of Terry and Barbosa?
    With both Terry and Barbosa coming off the bench, the 2nd unit is going to have a lot of defensive issues (especially with Bass there – btw, did anyone else think that Bass played a lot harder off the bench than he did as a starter?).
    Why not start Barbosa to provide floor spacing and some ball-handling responsibility (I’m sure Pierce will bring the ball up court a lot of the time) then bring Terry in as the main ball handler off the bench. Surely he can run some useful pick & rolls with Bass or Green (not to mention Garnett when he subs back in).
    I’d also love to see Dooling return as a 5th guard for when teams apply full-court pressure. Or maybe Doc could run as a player-coach!

  • Mike

    Great to see Sullinger starting. Now if they move Green into the starting rotation at the 3 and move Paul to the 2 along side AB, I think they might have something.

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