Stevens thinks about lineup changes 'every day'

Stevens thinks about lineup changes 'every day'
March 29, 2014, 3:30 pm
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WALTHAM, Mass. —  Brad Stevens doesn't appear ready to commit to shaking up the Boston Celtics starting five, but that doesn't mean he hasn't given it some - OK, a lot - of thought.

"I think about it every minute of every day," Stevens said on Saturday.

But just like any basketball decision he makes, there are both positives and negatives that will surely come about afterwards.

"The most likely change if there would be a change would be in the frontcourt," Stevens said. "You can go any number of different ways."

Indeed, there has been little separation among Boston's four main bigs - Kris Humphries, Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger - all season which has made figuring out the best mix of players among the more difficult challenges for Stevens in this, his first season as an NBA head coach.

And that doesn't even take into account the big man that Stevens acknowledges he wants to see more of in these final days of the season.

"The guy that I'm trying to find time for because I really want to see how he can impact others, is Joel (Anthony)," Stevens said.

Acquired in a three-team deal from Miami, Anthony has appeared in 15 games for Boston while averaging 0.7 points and 1.3 rebounds in four minutes per game.

But it's not as easy as just taking one of the four bigs out of the rotation now, and plugging Anthony in.

"And at the same time, we're getting into a pretty good rhythm scoring or at least getting shots and not always scoring," Stevens said. "Our offensive rhythm is much better than it was two months, three months ago even. Do you sacrifice that offensive rhythm or do you tweak that with change? It's a great question. And I don't know if there's an exact answer."

The lineup Boston has gone with lately has allowed for some strong play from the reserves.

In their last two games, both against Toronto, Boston's bench has outscored the Raptors' reserves 100-35.

Often success comes down to simply finding combinations that aren't just talented, but are able to compliment one another in a way that generates significant production.

Celtics guard Avery Bradley acknowledged that there are some player combinations on Boston's roster that play better with one another than others.

"Playing with each other the entire year, there are a few guys that every now and then once their in the game together, they play well," Bradley said. "That could be a few guys coming in that lift the energy up and everybody ... their focused and going, playing hard."

This seems especially true of rookies Kelly Olynyk and Phil Pressey who not surprisingly, are close off the court as well.

But that still doesn't bring Stevens any closer to finding an answer to his lineup dilemma or for that matter, get a good night's sleep.

"These games and (Friday) night's game in particular, I woke up multiple times. Let's put it that way," Stevens said. "Hard to go back to sleep. You think about everything that you could have controlled and controlled better."

For now, a lineup change doesn't appear to be the answer to the Celtics' problems.

"I didn't think the first group was bad (Friday) night," Stevens said. "They actually played pretty well to start. They played pretty well to start the third quarter. The end of the third quarter wasn't good."

Boston has already used 20 different starting lineups this season.

 The current starting five of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Bass and Humphries have just four starts together this season.

As much as the focus for Boston's struggles centers around the players and a lack of late-game execution, Stevens is quick to say that he too is part of the team's struggles this season.

"The stuff that keeps me up at night is the stuff I can control," Stevens said. "And whether it's helping to get more out of an individual, to coach better from a psychological standpoint or to be better Xs and Os standpoint, I'm jut going to continue ... I have to do better. That's what I'm going to continue to hold myself to."