Celtics

Celtics

BOSTON – Brad Stevens will remain in cut-and-paste mode when it comes to preseason player combinations for the Boston Celtics . . . but with a twist.

He has seen enough of this team to know which combinations work best together, and those are the ones he will spend more time focusing on utilizing with the regular season kicking off in a couple weeks.

“I have a pretty good idea of what we need to do, where we need to go and what we need to see,” Stevens told reporters recently. “I feel good about where a lot of our guys are as far as conditioning level and experience through four games.”

The final three preseason games for Boston will be a mixture of getting core guys some last-minute rest before the season, while fine-tuning the various units and groupings that Stevens feels most comfortable with playing.

Newcomer Amir Johnson has found success playing with just about every combination Stevens has put on the floor.

That kind of versatility allows Stevens to use Johnson as a starter or as a key reserve, and not have to worry about how it will affect his play.

“I’ve been on both sides in my career,” Johnson said. “Coming off the bench, starting. It really doesn’t matter.”

Stevens has been pleased with the impact Johnson has had in the preseason, even in games in which his numbers did not jump off the charts.

“He’s a good player,” Stevens said of Johnson. “Sometimes his rim-runs open up shots for other people.”

 

Stevens recalled a play recently in which Johnson ran so hard to the rim that it sucked in the opposing team’s defense and left Avery Bradley wide open for a corner 3-pointer.

“Those are some of the reasons why Amir’s advances stats are a lot higher than maybe his traditional stats would suggest,” Stevens said.

Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Johnson’s versatility serves as yet another reminder of how Stevens can go in a number of different directions with his lineups – a luxury he did not enjoy to this extent in his first two seasons.

“Our depth has to be an advantage,” Stevens said. “If we play starters traditional minutes and bench traditional minutes, we’re not taking advantage of our depth.”