Pregame: Lee starts; Wilcox, Green available
BOSTON -- With Rajon Rondo suspended for the first of two games, the Boston Celtics will start Courtney Lee at guard alongside Jason Terry on Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers is hoping to utilize Lee's on-ball defense to slow down Portland rookie Damian Lillard and the Blazers' pick-and-roll attack. At the other end of the floor, Rivers is going with a point guard-by-committee to fill Rondo's shoes.
"Everyone’s going to be the point guard. I told our guys, the entire team has to be ready for ball-handling duties," said Rivers. "It’s left us in a pretty tough spot, but we should be able to play through this and win games still."
Could we see more of Paul Pierce at point forward like in past seasons when Rondo was injured or suspended?
"Last year we had a nice run [without Rondo], that one stretch, because Avery [Bradley] was healthy, which helped, too," said Rivers. "I think, again, Courtney will handle the ball, [Leandro Barbosa] will handle the ball, JET will handle the ball -- Paul and Jeff [Green, too]. We have a lot of ball-handlers, none of them are point guards. But you can still start your offense, and once the first pass activates the offense, you should be able to run offense."
Rivers gushed about Lillard's steady demeanor in his rookie season, but is hopeful Lee can help slow him down.
"I’m going to put Courtney on him, a lot, then go from there and see," said Rivers. "[Lillard is] a tough cover, and they run a lot of pick and rolls, and they run pick and roll with another guy -- [LaMarcus] Aldridge -- really good. ... They do it a lot, and they should."
"[Lee] is capable. I don’t know yet if he’s capable at the point or [just] the 2. But he is capable, there’s no doubt about that. He’s shown flashes; again, in the Brooklyn game, he guarded Joe [Johnson] extremely well in Brooklyn, and I thought he gave us energy the other night [versus the Nets] as well. I thought in Orlando he changed the game for us when we moved him to the point defensive position. He can do it, we’re still trying to evaluate what his better position doing it at, where he can make the most impact defensively."
For the Celtics, both Jeff Green (knee) and Chris Wilcox (illness) are available.
Green suffered a right knee sprain in Wednesday's game against the Nets.
"I ran into a screen, it buckled, got sore real quick, started to hurt, and that's about it," said Green. "It feels a lot better. Not as swollen."
Green went through shootaround on Friday and Rivers said he moved without limitation, which should mean he'll see his normal workload.
Wilcox left Wednesday's game in the first half after getting sick. He did not practice Thursday or go through shootaround on Friday. While Rivers said he's available, he's hoping not to use him.
"Chris is not going to play much, and, honestly, if I don’t have to play Chris, I will not play Chris," said Rivers. "But Jeff is fine."
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