Going green: Celtics forced to use young lineup

Going green: Celtics forced to use young lineup
March 3, 2014, 1:15 pm
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For years Celtics Nation has wanted the Green team to get a little greener and play the young fellas.

Injuries and inconsistent play this season have left the Celtics few options other than to go with a rotation that's filled with players still getting their feet wet in the NBA.

Boston currently has 10 players healthy and available, and all see action. Of those players, four have been in the league less than two full seasons which speaks to their new-ness to the association.

That list could grow by one body depending on how much better 7-foot rookie Kelly Olynyk's toe injury feels prior to Wednesday's game against the Golden State Warriors.

Among the four youngsters whose health is good to go right now, you have Chris Babb who is currently on a 10-day contract and Chris Johnson who signed a multi-year deal last month after having played on a pair of 10-day deals with the Celtics.

When you see all the moves Boston made this summer that created more playing opportunities for their younger players both in the fold and those they went out and were acquired via the draft and free agency, it puts a greater premium on the Celtics' front office to bring in the kind of players who can at the very least compete, which has been one of the more consistent aspects of this Celtics team this season.

At 20-40, the Celtics have the fourth-worst record in the NBA, joining cellar dwellers Orlando (19-43), Philadelphia (15-45) and Milwaukee (11-47).

But of those four teams, Boston has lost 16 games by double digits -- the fewest among the foursome.

The Magic have dropped 22 games by double figures while Philadelphia and Milwaukee have suffered double-digit defeats 35 and 24 times, respectively.

"We've done a great job of bringing in guys, not necessarily world-beaters, but great guys, great teammates," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. "Do whatever you ask them to do."

Because things are so wide open at so many positions, that only enhances the likelihood of players bringing the kind of effort needed in order to compete.

"This was a great opportunity for me; that's how I looked at it when I got here," Johnson told CSNNE.com recently. "And I wanted to make the most of it."

And while it makes sense for guys arriving via 10-day contracts to play with a heightened sense of urgency, it's not all that different for an undrafted rookie like Phil Pressey.

"You always want to prove yourself, prove you belong out there," Pressey told CSNNE.com. "Your contract situation shouldn't have anything to do with that."

While Stevens would certainly like a few -- OK, a lot -- more wins this season, you won't hear him complaining about his team's overall effort this season which has allowed them to compete on many nights against teams that have more talent.

And then there's the X-factor in all this . . . Celtics pride shown by players who, "know and understand the responsibilities that go along with wearing the uniform," said Stevens who added, "they get it. And as a result, you've got a lot of guys playing really hard regardless of who's out there."