No matter how many times a head coach says the starting lineup isn’t that important, people are going to believe it’s important.

And they have a right to. Sure, it might say more about a player if he’s in at the end of the game as opposed to the beginning, but every team wants to come out strong to begin a contest, and it usually takes your best players to do that.

Which leads us to the Brad Stevens Boston Celtics and his starting lineup.

In some ways it’s much different than last season. In some ways it’s much different than the start of this season.

Marcus Smart has missed the last three games with a toe injury, which has allowed Isaiah Thomas to start. Partially due to ineffectiveness and partially due to Smart’s absence, David Lee and Tyler Zeller have also been replaced by Jared Sullinger and Amir Johnson. 

Going into Tuesday night, the starting lineup of Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Sullinger, and Johnson was the team’s better offensive lineup, as together they averaged 18.7 points on 43.5-percent shooting - both better marks than the lineup to begin the season (10.3 points on 28.6-percent shooting).

That isn’t to say that the lineup is an offensive juggernaut, because it isn’t. In fact, that group scored just 11 points through the first 6:20 of Boston’s loss in Indiana last week before it looked better in the win against the Wizards.

When Smart returns, he’s expected to be inserted back into the starting lineup, which will put Boston’s best offensive player, Thomas, back on the bench – for now, anyways. Could there be more changes, too?


Stevens knows he has plenty of options when it comes to possible lineups. He may even have too many options.

Evan Turner, for example, started 57 games for the Celtics last season. But Stevens told him before the season that he’d be coming off the bench. Some players might take that the wrong way, but Turner has the right attitude, even joking with reporters about it on Monday.

"[Stevens] spoke to me,” Turner said. “I had to smell his breath for alcohol. I checked his office for drugs. I said, 'You've gotta be high.' You know what I'm saying? But I kept it classy of course, and I trust the process. And that was it. But it's unbelievable right?"

That’s when Turner let out a big laugh.

"Nah, I mean it is what it is," he said. "At the end of the day, I think that's another development for myself is just being mature and taking it for what it is. It's the beginning of the season. You know what I'm saying? I'll be fine. There's a bigger picture than me. So seriously, I wasn't too worried or anything."

Turner may not be a starter right now, but he joins a long list of potential candidates as the season unfolds.