Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Pregame: Everyone's a go for Boston
By Chris Forsberg
ATLANTA -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said everyone on his team is a go for Game 5 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Atlanta Hawks, and despite nagging injuries to Paul Pierce (knee), Ray Allen (ankle) and Avery Bradley (shoulder), Boston will trot out its typical starting lineup.
"Everybody's good, which is good," Rivers said. "I wasn’t that concerned. I was far more concerned last game. I was pretty confident that everyone would play tonight. Everybody's banged up, and that’s one of the things I told our guys, they have the same issues over there."
Rivers acknowledged that Atlanta's changes to its starting lineup (bringing in Al Horford and Marvin Williams, while shuffling Kirk Hinrich and Jason Collins to the bench) gives the Hawks their "best players on the floor to start the game. It makes them who they were going to be before Al got injured. They're playing their best team."
And that will cause some matchup headaches as Boston will have to decide whether to keep Avery Bradley on Joe Johnson (who shuffles to the 2 spot) or cross match with Paul Pierce sticking with Johnson.
Rivers said the team won't change its approach, but acknowledged that Bradley will have to guard Johnson at times.
"Our approach stays the same, I’ve always told you, we rarely change our defense," he said. "We are who we are. We’re not ashamed of that. When we do it right, we’re really good and sometimes teams still beat us. We’re pretty much who we are on defense, it’s rare that we change. Obviously, Joe at (shooting guard) will force Avery at times to guard Joe, and that’s not a matchup we love."
Rivers explained the difficulty in cross matchups is losing someone like Johnson or Williams and allowing open transition 3-pointers as guys scramble to find their man. Boston would prefer to force the Hawks to beat them out of halfcourt sets.