Brad Stevens Sticking With Amir Johnson In Celtics’ Starting Lineup For Game 5

BOSTON (CBS) — There will be no changes to the Celtics’ starting lineup in Game 5 against the Washington Wizards.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand on Wednesday ahead of Game 5 at the TD Garden and said he considered changing things up, but ultimately decided to stick with Amir Johnson despite the big man’s struggles this series.

“One of the things that we know is that it’s not necessarily about who starts the game, per se, because it’s not like whoever started in that spot has played big minutes. It’s about avoiding these runs,” Stevens said on Wednesday.

The Wizards went on runs of 22-0 and 26-0 in Games 3 and 4 in Washington, respectively, and won both games to tie the series at 2-2. They also went on a 16-0 run to start the series in Game 1.

“We have to make sure we’re better as a group, all 15 guys who are available, at being able to answer their runs and stop them at 6-0 instead of higher than that,” said Stevens.

Boston turnovers have been a giant part of those Wizards runs, which have led to easy fast breaks for Washington. He’s been pleased with their shot selection during those lengthy Washington runs, and doesn’t necessarily think the Celtics need to attack the basket more if they find themselves on the wrong side of another one of those scoring flurries.

“We’ve taken pretty good shots when we’ve gotten the opportunity; we missed a number of good shots the other day that could have made a tie game at half a lead in our favor,” Stevens explained. “We have to continue to work to find those best looks. We just can’t turn the ball over. That’s how those things happen, and sometimes they happen one after another after another, and we just have to focus on being more effective. At the end of the day, this is going to boil down to how intense you are and how tough you are, both mentally and physically, and staying in the moment and making the right play.”

Stevens admitted that Isaiah Thomas isn’t completely healthy, but that is the case for most players who are still on the court this late in the season.

“He has a bunch of nicks and bruises, no question about that. He’s played a lot and has had a tremendous year. Like other guys, he’s dealing with a number of things,” he said. “But I don’t think that is something that would ever keep Isaiah from playing. He wants to play through everything.”

Stevens said he doesn’t agree that Kelly Olynyk is a “dirty player” as Golden State’s Draymond Green said earlier in the week.

“I’ve been around Kelly for four years, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I don’t agree with it at all,” said Stevens.

“One of the things that I’ve learned in my time here, the first year we didn’t make the playoffs, but man, when you have a lot of days between games, there are a lot of things we need to talk about. I need easier questions, like the one you asked me last week Zo about scoring 52 points,” Stevens joked. “That made me feel really good about myself, because no one asked me about that before.”

Listen to Stevens’ full interview with Zolak & Bertrand:

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