Lineup Watch: First sub is first-rate

On Sunday, we documented Chris Wilcox's elevated play since the trade deadline. One of the big questions facing Wilcox after the team traded away Jason Collins was whether he could raise his production as the first sub, fetching Kevin Garnett five minutes into the first quarter.

Early returns are extremely encouraging for Boston. Over the past four games since the trade deadline, a Wilcox lineup playing alongside four starters in Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, and Brandon Bass, is the team's third-most commonly used lineup (11 minutes). The unit has been super effective, owning an astronomical offensive rating of (162.2 points per 100 possessions) and being just as effective on the defensive side (a rating of 82.3).

It's an insanely small sample size, but the Celtics are plus-18 with that that early-sub lineup, shooting 73.7 percent from the floor and not committing a single turnover. It's an encouraging sign that Boston can play at a high level without Garnett on the floor.

Dig deeper with the NBA's stats site and Boston's two-man lineup when Wilcox and Bass share the floor is plus-13 in 41 minutes together over the last four games. Most importantly, they've been a competitive rebounding tandem (a defensive rebound rate of 75 percent pairs nicely with a robust offensive rebound rate of 26.3 percent).

The already small four-game sample is further skewed by the fact that Garnett sat out the first game post deadline in Phoenix. But the bottom line is that the Celtics are having success with Wilcox on the floor (plus-28 overall over in plus/minus over the last four games) and his ability to pair with both Bass and Jeff Green has been important to that outcome.