The Celtics Will Have To Trend Away From 5 Out Lineups

A Complete Lack Of Size

According to, the Celtics were the shortest team in the NBA in 2016-17. Today's NBA general managers value length and size, so you won't find a smaller backcourt combination than 5'9 5'7 Isaiah Thomas and 6'2 Avery Bradley. 7 footer Kelly Olynyk defends and rebounds more like a 6'9 stretch forward. Tyler Zeller, Boston's only traditional center, appeared in 51 games, albeit in limited playing time. Brad Stevens' streamlined 3-guard lineup featured 6'4 Marcus Smart as a small forward. Smart's 3-position switchability could be part of the reasoning for why Boston kept him instead of Bradley. Jae Crowder was asked to guard players four inches taller than him in the end of games. It felt like the players were constantly defending up a position.

The C's lack of size was exploited throughout the entire regular season and playoffs. Boston was 28th in rebounding percentage and surrendered the fourth-most second point chances, per Al Horford, whose rebounding numbers have continually decreased over the past four seasons, led the Celtics with 6.8 boards per game. For much of the beginning of the season, Bradley was the leading rebounder. 

Boston was killed on the glass in the playoffs. The Bulls posted a staggering 29.6% offensive rebounding percentage against the C's. It grew to 30% against the Wizards. If the Celtics are going to ascend to the level of the Cavaliers and Warriors, they cannot afford to give away so many extra possessions.

Boston attempted to answer their rebounding problem by signing the physically brutish Aron Baynes to a 1-year $4.3 million salary. Baynes is a legitimate 7 footers whose rebounding is his most marketable asset. The better question is whether he is too drastic of a stylistic change to fit within the Boston offense.

Boston's Floor Spacing

Last season, Boston's tactic for countering for their undersized roster was to space the floor with lineups that featured five capable 3-point shooters. The five-out lineup was a staple parameter for the offense last season. The C's shot the third highest number of treys per game by any team in NBA history, per Basketball Reference. Centers Kelly Olynyk, Horford, and Amir Johnson combined for 181/500 on threes, good for a respectable 36.2% clip. 

Neither Baynes nor fellow Boston neophyte Ante Zizic is a shooting threat. The Celtics newcomers played a combined 140 games last season, and neither attempted a 3 point shot. In fact, in their ten combined professional seasons, the newly acquired big men have managed just one 3-pointer total. Ironically, Baynes' one career make was against the Celtics in 2014. At least Amir was willing to take distance shots when left wide open. The same can't be said about the new centers.