If you watch games from last year, they are maximizing what they have. The schemes are designed for, IT, AB, Jae, Al and whomever...right? Smart and Rozier off the bench with Kelly.
The only way Stevens could get his best 5 players on the floor together was to "go small."
The small unit had to play out of their minds to make it work and it did, but, the playoffs were tougher than tough. I really think Stevens was the formula up to the finals. The last 6 games (reg/playoffs) against the Cavs, our small team just got crushed. Brad looked down the bench and started Green in the ECF.
This year's team isn't small. They have a big aggressive 2.
They have a traditional center...if they bring him in.
Their point guard has enough size to have a chance on defense.
The bench rotation is better because the starters rotating onto the second unit are "better".
Baynes - Morris - Irving - Smart - Rozier (sort of, this year's "small" unit)
The above or whatever was on the court last night for awhile. Kyrie does not need to be covered by this bench unit like IT did, thus, Rozier and Smart can do their thing. There's a center who covers the opposing center. Kelly isn't on the floor anymore.
Tatum and Brown are young. They also happen to be long and it is easier to roll for 4 quarters when you're 20.
Kyrie is good on defense this year? Of course he is. His mates are playing their butts off on defense. Marcus Smart is the team's leader and he's screaming at the rooks for defensive commitment. Kyrie is onboard stealing every ball he can get his hands on.
Watch the bench rotation at the beginning of the fourth for the last few games...Heat, Thunder, Magic, Bux....they can't get their shots, they have to switch out of the play that was called, Rozier is freaking relentless, Smart is being Smart, Baynes is wrestling with the bigs underneath...the Celtics are ahead and Westbrook, the Freak or any of the stars whom are supposed to get a shot somehow aren't able to do spit.
Look at the schedule for the next 12 games. GSW and Philly look tough, that's about it.
Our bench defense is far, far better, we have a center and our starting back court is bigger.
I'm sure there will be a slump, but, nobody wants to play this team now.