|Celtics experiment with small ball||10.01.12 at 1:22 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The buzzword around the Celtics these days is “versatility.” In Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and especially Jeff Green, coach Doc Rivers has a number of different lineup combinations he can use, and he plans to test them all. Rivers pointed to Rajon Rondo, who was getting stretched out behind the media scrum. “He’ll be very happy.”
Their last practice before departing for Istanbul was devoted entirely to using small lineups, although small is a relative term. The C’s believe that the 6-foot-9 Green can force matchups whether he’s at the three or the four and there’s even a thought of playing him and Paul Pierce together with two traditional bigs.
“We put it in [Sunday] but we didn’t work on it,” Rivers said. “Today we’re going to have almost exclusively have small lineups on the floor so that will be fun. This is the first year we’ve ever really worked on it and we’re going to work on it so we can do it every game.”
Green is the key because of his length and athleticism. Last season, Rivers used Mickael Pietrus as a smaller small forward with Pierce playing the four. That lineup was almost born out of desperation as a counter to Miami using LeBron James as the second big around a lineup of perimeter shooters.Rivers doesn’t just want to matchup, he wants to attack and he sees Green as a force in the open court.
“He’s the main guy when you talk about small lineups,” Rondo said. “He played the four at Oklahoma City, he stretched the floor with his shooting. We can get a lot of bigs on the floor as well. He can go from the four to the three. Defensively, he can check one through four, I believe. We expect a lot out of Jeff but he’s fine with that pressure.”
A key to making the smaller lineups work is also coming up with an offense that won’t stall when Rondo is off the court — a frequent occurrence last season. With no traditional backup point guard on the roster and Avery Bradley out for a few months, that task may fall to Terry.
“He’s a better ballhandler,” Rivers said. “I knew he could score of the dribble but he’s really a natural at the point. That surprised me. We have no choice right now with Avery out. We’re trying to create an offense where it’s not a point guard dominated offense, unless Rondo’s on the floor.”
|Jason Terry: I’m the JET (not Ray Allen) and “I like to fly”||09.29.12 at 1:30 pm ET|
“Who?,” the 35-year-old Terry said with a straight face. “No, we’re two different players and hopefully, I’ll bring something that Ray didn’t and some of the things that he did. Obviously, Ray was a great player for this franchise for years, brought them a championship in ’08. But, again, our games are totally different. He’s 6-5 and I’m 6-2, but I am “The Jet” and I like to fly so we’ll see what happens. A lot of those comparisons will be thrown out there but we’re two totally different players.
“For me, my job, it doesn’t change. I’ll be thrust into the sixth-man role. But hey, I’m on one of the best. It is what it is, and I take pride in it. It’s something every team needs, that spark, that energy off the bench and that’s what I’m here to do. Anything other than that, I won’t be doing my job. I don’t want to let these guys down. KG has already talked to me about what it means for him to win another championship, [Rajon Rondo] tells me every day what it means to win another one. And Paul Pierce, he’s looking great and he’s in great shape and condition. They know, they’re champions.”
Terry said he’s been inspired by the veterans like Rondo, Pierce and Kevin Garnett to be a leader for the bench.
“So now, for me as a veteran player, it’s [my job] to help these young guys, those guys we’re going to need off the bench, be the leader for them and help them understand what it’s going to mean to win a championship,” he said. “There is no other goal. The goal is to win a championship and I believe this year we have the talent, the coaching staff, the fans to get the job done. We believe it, we believe it to a man that we will win.”
|Doc Rivers’ coaching challenge||09.26.12 at 5:16 pm ET|
While the NBA continues to undergo what the writer Bethlehem Shoals once termed “the positional revolution,” the Celtics largely have stayed true to traditional lineups. There was good reason for this.
In Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett they had four players who not only fit the archetypes of their positions, they could have served as the model for how we think about point guards, off guards, small forwards and power forwards.
All that was missing was a center, and over the years they have used Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace and the O’Neal brothers to varying degrees of effectiveness. Coach Doc Rivers also used Glen Davis as an undersized 5, but the one time he was truly able to display a unique look was during the championship season of 2007-08 when James Posey took the court with the other four starters.
That all began to change last season when Rivers moved Garnett to the 5 and inserted Brandon Bass into the starting lineup. The change was enormously successful, but the C’s ran into trouble during the postseason against teams like Philadelphia and Miami that could throw multiple combinations at them and create matchup advantages at various positions.
The Celtics lacked depth, which was a major problem, but they also lacked the personnel to counter some of these moves. That may have changed this offseason when they added Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green to the mix. All three players can play multiple positions. And in loading up on 7-footers (Jason Collins, Darko Milicic and Fab Melo) to go along with Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger, the Celtics should be deeper, bigger and more versatile.
At some point this winter they also will welcome back Avery Bradley, who found a home playing off the ball on offense while applying tenacious ball pressure on the defensive end of the court.
“When he comes back, I don’t know if anyone has a better guard core than us, but we’re going to have to wait for that,” Rivers said. “In the meantime we have three guys who can all play multiple positions. That’s the way I would always want to coach, and I have an opportunity to do that.”
|Jason Terry: ‘My mission is to kill’ Heat, Lakers||09.25.12 at 5:01 pm ET|
The way each member of the Celtics brass lobbied for Jason Terry in his foursome at the team’s annual charity golf outing (owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca won out, obviously), you wonder whether Doc Rivers & Co. lured Terry more for his ability to replace Ray Allen on the course rather than the court.
But really C’s president Danny Ainge sought Terry for three simple reasons: Scoring, scoring and more scoring.
“We wanted a scorer off the dribble,” said Rivers. “We do it every year right after the season: I always sit down and write Danny a long letter about needs, and that was my No. 1 need.”
So, Rivers knew exactly who to put on speed dial once NBA free agency began, and as Terry said, “When Doc calls, you answer.” The conversation probably went something like this: Your mission, Jason, should you choose to accept it, involves the recovery of a stagnant offense.
“My mission is to kill, whoever that is, whether it’s the Heat or whether it’s the Lakers — hopefully both,” said the 35-year-old Terry, “but that’s my mission, and that’s what I’m here to do.”
|Celtics camp questions: How will the new backcourt look?||09.19.12 at 1:47 pm ET|
For the first time since the Big Three were originally conceived, the Celtics will have a new shooting guard lining up alongside Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Not since Kendrick Perkins was traded to Oklahoma City have the Celtics undergone such an important change.
Ray Allen‘s departure for Miami was really the culmination of a transformation that was beginning to take shape last season. With Avery Bradley in the starting lineup, the Celtics suddenly became a dynamic defensive team that could also score points at a better-than expected rate. The C’s outscored their opponents by almost 20 points per 100 possessions with Bradley in the starting lineup.
Small sample size or no, Bradley’s emergence help point them in a direction that was less dependent on Allen’s shooting and off-the-ball movement, and increasingly reliant on Rondo’s gift for creating offense for others. In an interesting twist, the Celtics tried desperately to re-sign Allen, but when those efforts failed they turned their attention toward completing the transition toward a more versatile and potentially dynamic backcourt.
|Jason Terry pulls a Mickael Pietrus, guarantee a Celtics championship this season every chance he gets||08.17.12 at 11:33 am ET|
By now, you’ve probably seen Terry’s new tattoo on his left biceps of the C’s logo. “There’s the lucky leprechaun,’ he told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton during an interview Thursday at Canton’s Reebok Headquarters that will air Sunday night on Sports Final, “and he’s spinning the Larry O’Brien trophy, which we will win this year.”
So much for symbolism. While the Heat added aging All-Stars Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to their 2011-12 NBA title team and the Lakers brought superstars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard into the fold, the Celtics acquired role players like Terry, Courtney Lee and Jason Collins to complement their core of Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Still, Terry remains supremely confident in the C’s chances.
‘Looking at our roster and what Danny [Ainge] has put together, we have a good team,” he said. “A solid core of veteran guys, two Hall of Famers, one of the best point guards in the league — the best if you ask me in Rajon Rondo — and a good nucleus of young guys that are going to have to play and help us out.’
Want more of Terry’s brash takes on his forthcoming first season in a Celtics uniform?
|Jason Terry gets tattoo of Celtics leprechaun logo balancing NBA’s Larry O’Brien championship trophy||08.12.12 at 11:15 am ET|
For your viewing pleasure, Celtics guard Jason Terry shared photos of his newest tattoo: The C’s leprechaun logo balancing the Larry O’Brien championship trophy. The tattoo appears on his left biceps opposite another one of the trophy, which he got the summer before the Mavericks’ 2010-11 run to the NBA title. Coincidence?