Celtics' blurry rotation coming into focus

Celtics' blurry rotation coming into focus
November 26, 2013, 11:00 pm
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BOSTON — From the moment the Boston Celtics began training camp, there was a feeling among many that the Celtics had at least one too many warm bodies on the roster.

In that regard, injuries have in one respect helped Brad Stevens and his staff with fine-tuning their roster in as efficient a manner as possible.

Stevens has used various combinations which has put a premium on trying to unearth various groupings that work both for the first unit as well as the second.

The tinkering seems to be paying off now as the Celtics come into tonight's game with back-to-back wins over Atlanta and Charlotte, respectively.

Beating those teams doesn't exactly make the heart skip a beat.

But considering how both games were gut-check performances that ended with a Celtics victory, the continuity and cohesiveness that's taking shape among the players is palatable.

Boston's starting five is comprised of Jordan Crawford, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger. Top bench players are Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Courtney Lee, Vitor Favorani and Phil Pressey.

Stevens will have a tough decision on what to do with Bass when Kelly Olynyk (ankle sprain) returns to the lineup in another week or so.

"I feel good about when to bring guys in, who to bring in first," Stevens said. "I feel good about those things. That's a little bit of a work in progress."

While the players in and out of the rotation might change, the one constant has been all have been ready to contribute with no notice.

Boston rookie guard Phil Pressey has no idea if he's going to play one night or another. And yet you would think he's used to playing 20 or so minutes a night by the poise and composure he shows when on the floor.

Following Boston's win at Charlotte on Monday, Celtics players went out of their way to praise the play of Pressey who came off the bench and tallied a career-high eight assists.

Another fringe rotation player, Kris Humphries, showed up big in Tuesday's 96-86 win as well. He had four points, five rebounds and a plus/minus ratio of plus-17. Even more important than his stats, his defense was significant in helping keep former Celtic Al Jefferson (now with the Bobcats) from being a major factor as Jefferson finished with 14 points but could only grab three rebounds.

"For someone like Phil he didn't see much action in the Atlanta game and Hump (Humphries) hasn't seen a lot of action throughout the season," said Sullinger. "So those guys are very anxious to show why they can play and why they're in this league.

Sullinger added, "That's what makes it special, especially someone like Phil. He wants to show everybody he belongs in this league."

The same can be said for this Celtics team that's still learning and growing not just how to play but how to play together and prove their many naysayers wrong who see a team rebuilding and not one that's trying to win as many games as possible.

Boston hasn't arrived, but you have to like the direction they are trending towards right now.

"We're still not playing 48 minutes," Stevens said. "But we are doing some things, you can see it from a coaching standpoint, there's a lot of things happening that we're getting better at, especially on the defensive end of the floor."