Celtics Reporter Calls Out Brad Stevens’ ‘Funky Lineups’

Getty Images Daniel Theis of the Celtics reacts to a call during play against the Spurs

For the Boston Celtics, Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs was supposed to be an epic reunion between its best three players.

In a 110-106 loss, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Jayson Tatum took the floor for the first time of the regular season. For the return of the three 20+ point scorers, respectively, one anticipated somewhat of a postseason approach from head coach Brad Stevens – the man responsible for divvying up playing time.

So, when Stevens played 12 players before the end of the first half, it took many by surprise. However, it was when Brad turned to his bench again, this time at the start of the fourth quarter, the confusion continued for many, including Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.

After the Celtics outscored the Spurs 37-21 in the third quarter – a frame that was heavily influenced by Tatum and Brown, who combined for 22 points – Stevens sat the tandem. Instead, while clinging onto a two-point lead, he sent a lineup that consisted of mostly reserves, including Grant Williams, Semi Ojeleye, and Javonte Green, alongside Marcus Smart and Walker.

“I think there will be some experimenting looking for different matches and lineups,” Stevens said after the game. “We played Grant (Williams) and Semi (Ojeleye) in the second (half). We wanted to be bigger. They bring a physicality to the game. The guys that didn’t get in the second half, there wasn’t anything they didn’t do in the first.

“There’s not a ton of separation there.”


Washburn: ‘Stevens Has No Idea Whom To Trust On The Bench’

This did not sit well with Washburn, who says Stevens has to figure out which second-unit players he can trust to start the fourth quarter and which ones need to start. For the first time all season, Stevens had a healthy starting lineup – one that Washburn believes Brad needed to utilize more, specifically its young dynamic duo in Tatum and Brown.

“His second-half rotations were for about 18 of the 24 minutes. But it was that six-minute stretch that cost the Celtics a chance to win,” Washburn wrote about the start of the fourth quarter. “The putrid second period left the Celtics no margin for error, so Stevens needed to tighten his rotations and start the fourth quarter with his best lineup, not with Tatum and Brown on the bench. But the Celtics are facing a quandary because Stevens has no idea whom to trust on the bench from one night to the next.

“Teague was supposed to be a scoring sparkplug who could run the offense, but he’s failed to do that either.”


Washburn: Either Tatum Or Brown Needs To Be On The Floor At All Times

Now, the quandary staring back at the Celtics will have to sort its way out through the strength of Brad’s core players – Tatum, Brown, Walker, and Smart.

“Grant Williams is solid on defense but has regressed offensively. Theis’s foul trouble, which is constant, limited him to 12 minutes, so Stevens had to use a lot of Thompson, which burned the Celtics in certain situations because the Spurs kept a big man in the paint at all times because Thompson doesn’t stretch the floor,” Washburn wrote. “At this point, the Celtics are a bunch of jumbled pieces beyond Tatum, Brown, Smart, and Walker, and until Stevens can trust his bench, either Tatum or Brown needs to be on the floor at all times.”

READ NEXT: Brad Stevens Calls Out Celtics’ Poor Defense: ‘It’s Too Easy’

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