When the Celtics added Greg Monroe to their frontcourt a couple weeks back, the playing time situation for the bigs on the roster got a little bit murky. Brad Stevens likes to play small ball a lot and this team already had two full-time limited, but above-average centers in Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis. With Al Horford also seeing significant minutes at center on a nightly basis, odds were someone was going to get squeezed out of the rotation, depending on the night.
“Greg brings some experience, low-post play and he's a terrific passer from the perimeter,” Danny Ainge explained after the free agent signing. “Brad likes to run his offense through bigs out on the perimeter a lot, so that could be helpful and he's been a good rebounder. We think that his experience can provide something for us, but we also have Baynes, who has been the starting center on the top defensive team and Daniel Theis has played fantastic. It's going to be a tough juggle for Brad.”
For a couple of games before the All-Star break, Theis ended up on the short end of the stick as far as the playing time juggle went. He played just 11 minutes against the Cavs and Clippers, and it’s no coincidence that the Celtics had two of their worst defensive performances of the year with his limited playing time.
That changed on Friday night against the Pistons. The 25-year-old got his chance for extended time when Baynes was sidelined with a sprained elbow and Monroe looked flat footed on defense yet again for much of the first quarter. With the Celtics trailing by six late in the opening frame, Theis got the call and helped the visitors turn the game around on both ends. The performance (career-high 19 points on 8-of-10 FG) was proof that he should not be the one squeezed out of the rotation when everyone gets healthy.