Inexperienced With Envy: the place is the NBA’s greatest 5-man lineup?


If you’re an insatiable client of NBA podcasts and evaluation, one of many via traces over the previous calendar yr has been the utter dominance of final yr’s beginning lineup for the Boston Celtics. It doesn’t matter which analyst you flip to – each certainly one of them acknowledges how otherworldly that lineup is and was. I’m speaking in regards to the vaunted beginning fivesome of Marcus Good, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Robert Williams.

In keeping with, they performed a complete 443 minutes collectively final season and have been a +218 on the yr. The subsequent most used lineup? Sub Grant Williams for Horford. That lineup was used for under 109 minutes of sport motion. Ime Udoka knew what labored and he caught with it.

This season, issues are completely different. With Joe Mazzulla on the helm, the main target (particularly with Rob sidelined) has been on the offensive facet of the ball. For all of its defensive prowess, when it was their flip to attain the ball, that beginning 5 may really feel a tad clunky at occasions. And boy, was Celtics Nation enthusiastic about this offense to begin the yr. After final yr’s NBA Finals the place the Warriors uncovered the entire Celtics’ offensive flaws, it appeared just like the group had made a take care of the satan to by no means expertise such droughts once more. Drive, kick, swing, swing, drive, kick, 3 ball, rinse, repeat. The group appeared unstoppable, however the protection suffered.

Boston Celtics v Chicago Bulls

Photograph by Michael Reaves/Getty Photos

Nonetheless, the group is trending in the fitting route on the defensive finish, up now to seventh general in defensive score and third general during the last 10 video games, however it doesn’t really feel the identical. Why would possibly that be? Possibly the reply lies within the infrequency of the NBA’s greatest 5-man unit.

Since Rob’s return, you’d have anticipated to see a good quantity of Good, Jaylen, Tatum, Al, and Rob, proper? Effectively, it has solely seen the courtroom for eleven whole minutes over 4 video games (although Rob has performed in seven in his return). The pattern measurement is small, however it’s a internet zero in case you’re questioning.

Possibly this is so simple as the Celtics eager to experiment with rotations and lineups with their shiny new toys. As an illustration, probably the most used Rob lineup options Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown, Sam Hauser, Grant Williams, and Rob (5 video games, 17 minutes whole, +1). The second: White, Brogdon, Tatum, Grant, Rob (3 video games, quarter-hour, +5). I actually just like the promise of that lineup. The third: Brogdon, Tatum, Hauser, Grant, Rob (3 video games, 14 minutes, -5).

Golden State Warriors Vs Boston Celtics At TD Garden

Photograph by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe through Getty Photos

So, it appears Coach Joe likes the concept of Brogdon, Grant, and Rob on the courtroom collectively, and is perhaps making an attempt to cowl up for Hauser’s common protection with Rob on the again line. To not point out the offensive upside of utilizing Rob’s vertical spacing and gravity to work in symbiosis with 4 knock down shooters. All of this is sensible. The common season is the time to experiment and see what works and Coach Joe is looking for that steadiness between offense and protection.

So the query is: when will we see that 5-man unit on a extra constant foundation? It doesn’t must be the beginning 5, however if you need that lineup within the sport night-to-night, it most likely is sensible to begin video games that approach to make sure it occurs. That’s the best resolution. However as CelticsBlog Keith Smith mentioned final night time in our Slack, “who begins video games is probably the most overblown matter” in basketball discourse, however he too “desires to see extra of that group.” Host Will Weir added, “I want to see extra of the beginning 5 lineup from final yr. Even when it’s not because the starters…this could have been a great sport for it.”

So long as the Celtics protection retains trending in the fitting route, Mazzulla may proceed to seek for different combos that work. It’s fairly doable that Mazzulla hasn’t relied on that lineup as a result of inevitably, he is aware of that he can. However that is undoubtedly one thing to observe over the subsequent few weeks.

Tune into the newest episode of Inexperienced With Envy for extra dialog on Celtics/Nuggets, contenders and pretenders across the league, and our weekly vibe verify!



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