Tinker time for Doc Rivers is now, and our esteemed head coach is toying with a myriad of combinations ahead of the season opener against the Heat on October 30. One scenario has rookie Jared Sullinger starting and Brandon Bass coming off the bench. The thinking is that Bass would give the Celtics a veteran scorer off the bench to team with Jason Terry. With Sullinger well ahead of the rookie learning curve, the thought of starting Sullinger is a luxury that Rivers didn’t think he’d have at his disposal.
Well, guess what? While bringing Bass off the bench is a reversal of a successful formula, it could also be the best thing to happen to this team in a long time. The mild-mannered Bass is unselfish and low-key, and he knows that team goals come before individual goals. Besides, it’s not like Bass won’t be seeing the court. Bass is a vital piece of this championship contender, and Rivers will be calling his name early and often.
Besides, Rivers may decide to employ two or three different starting lineups, depending on the opponent and where the games fall on the schedule. Depth, a huge weakness last season, is actually the Celtics’ greatest asset this time around – at least on paper.
How Courtney Lee and Jeff Green work out will go a long way to determining the true depth of this team. Injuries will also play a factor. But having Bass as a weapon off the bench will give Doc a nice compliment to Terry. Both players shoot a high percentage at their position. Both are smart basketball players. Both know that this bench could turn out to be something special indeed.
On the flip-side, starting Sullinger with the veterans could help the rookie immensely. His basketball IQ is off the charts, and he’s quickly earned the trust of Boston’s Big Three. Kevin Garnett loves the rookie’s attitude. Rajon Rondo praises his basketball brain. Paul Pierce just smiles and gets that dreamy, faraway look, as if he knows Danny Ainge was able to pull off something special on draft night.
Whatever happens, it’s nice to know that Doc has options this time around. Last season, not so much.
Now, if we can just keep everybody healthy…