BOSTON – Having multiple playmakers on the floor is something Brad Stevens likes to see from the Boston Celtics.
But three games into the regular season and two of the team’s best in that role – Marcus Smart and Evan Turner – have played sparingly together.
Out of a possible 144 minutes, NBA.com statistics show that the two have been on the floor at the same time for 38 minutes this season, or 26.4 percent of the time.
Knowing how the Indiana Pacers love to play small ball, don’t be surprised to see the tandem more than usual in tonight’s game.
The only real issue that arises when they are on the floor together is who occupies the role of playmaker.
Last season, that job belonged primarily to Turner who led the Celtics with 5.5 assists per game.
But this past offseason saw both Smart and the Celtics indicate he would be looked upon to be more of a playmaker this season than he was as a rookie.
During training camp, Evan Turner told CSNNE.com that he didn’t believe this slight shift in his responsibilities would be a problem.
“It’s actually better when you have more than one guy on the floor handling the ball,” Turner said. “Defenses can’t really key on one guy. For us, it makes our offense more dangerous.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens echoed similar sentiments about the two playing together.
“I think Marcus can play on or off the ball,” Stevens said. “I think Evan can play on or off the ball. They just have to pick their spots.”
And that Stevens believes, will come down to whoever has the ball in his hands to initiate the offense whether it be in a half court setting or in transition.
“Rather than looking at it as a ‘who should be off the ball?’ issue,” Stevens said. “It should be whoever has it, brings it. Let’s play.”
Still, the Celtics came into this season with a plan on Smart being more of a floor leader.
He has done a decent job in the first three games, averaging 12.0 points with 3.7 assists to only 0.7 turnovers per game.
Meanwhile, Turner’s start to the season hasn’t been nearly as smooth.
In three games, he’s averaging 4.7 points (a career-low if it stands) with just 2.0 assists and a team-leading 2.7 turnovers per game.
“Evan, it’s just a matter of him feeling better, getting into a rhythm,” Stevens said. “Part of that is on me. He didn’t play a ton (in the preseason) or he played a small stretch and that’s hard.”
Stevens would naturally love for Turner to get back to playing the way he did near the end of last season in helping lead the Celtics into the postseason.
But only three games into the season, Stevens is nowhere close to being overly concerned about the 6-foot-6 wing’s play.
“He’s a passionate guy,” Stevens said of Turner. “He loves the game; he’s going to be his own biggest critic. As a result, he usually responds and plays well.”