Amir Johnson back in starting lineup for Boston
WASHINGTON — Celtics coach Brad Stevens on Sunday returned to the starting lineup he used at the start of these playoffs, reinserting center Amir Johnson for forward Gerald Green.
Johnson led the Celtics with 77 starts during the regular season, but he was benched for Green after top-seeded Boston lost the first two games of its opening-round series against the 8th-seeded Bulls. The Celtics went on to win the next four games in that series with Green in the starting lineup, and Green remained there during the team’s Game 1 win against the Wizards in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Even though Boston won that game, the Celtics were outscored 16-0 at the start of the game, so in Game 2 Stevens returned to Johnson. The team had a slow start then, too, falling behind 16-8. And in Game 3, Green got the call once more.
The score was tied at 12 early, but later in the first quarter Washington blitzed the Celtics with a 22-0 run and rolled to an easy win. Over the first three games of this series, the Celtics were outscored 119-70 in the first quarter.
Before Game 4 on Sunday, Stevens said that he had analyzed all of the starting lineups in the Celtics’ seven games against the Wizards this season. He determined that the start of Game 2 with Johnson was not as ugly as it had originally seemed. And he realized the Celtics’ 110-102 win over Washington on March 20 was the only other game in which Boston had used its regular starting lineup, and the group had played quite well together.
“They’re a great challenge out of the gate,” Stevens said of the Wizards. “It’s not about the one starting spot that has been rotating. I think we all have to start better, and that’s the bottom line.”
Johnson averaged 7.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game during the regular season. But over the first three games of this series he had a total of just three points and four rebounds.
— Adam Himmelsbach, Globe Staff