“Three-Guard Set”

Marcus Smart makes his return to the starting five. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Celtics are rolling with a three-guard lineup in the wake of Jae Crowder‘s ankle injury. Crowder, who’s averaging career-highs across the board, will be sidelined for a couple of weeks while nursing the injury, forcing Brad Stevens to give this new lineup an extended look.

Marcus Smart is expected to start at small forward, as the powerful guard is strong enough to hold his own against some wings and takes on monumental defensive challenges on a game-by-game basis. Not only does he provide toughness on that end, Smart can create a bit and get out and run with Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley.

Now, Crowder’s injury doesn’t just benefit Smart (struggling in March, shooting under 20% from deep). Rookies Terry Rozier (10 minutes v. HOU on Friday) & RJ Hunter could get extended PT, along with James Young & Jonas Jerebko. Boston’s in a great position – they are presented with a rare opportunity to “develop” young talent in the midst of a playoff push.

Only thing is, both Miami and Atlanta are breathing down their neck for the 3 seed.

Starting Thomas, Bradley and Smart together is the best decision, as the trio had some success penetrating and devastating (word to Clyde) during extended outings last season.

Coach Stevens is banking on having a better complement of skills out there, with Evan Turner assuming more responsibility as a ball-handler and playmaker with the reserves.

Let’s see if it pays dividends heading down the stretch.


-Jabari J.

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