Boston Celtics: CampFire2012

Camp fire: C's focus on small ball

October, 1, 2012

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Before their big European adventure, the Boston Celtics went small Monday with Celtics coach Doc Rivers suggesting that much of the team's third practice of training camp would be dedicated to undersized lineups.

With increased versatility on the roster this season, Rivers has suggested he'll engage in some heavy mixing-and-matching to find units that allow Boston to both match up with -- and exploit -- opponents this season.

"[Rondo] will be very happy. We put [the small lineups] in yesterday, but we didn’t work on it. Today, almost exclusively, we'll have small lineups on the floor," said Rivers. "We’re going to change them all around, so that will be fun. This is the first year that we’ve actually really worked on it. We’re going to work on it every day."

The Celtics like the flexibility available this season. Jeff Green can play either forward position, while Jason Terry can play both guard spots. Paul Pierce and Courtney Lee can line up at either wing position, while Kevin Garnett and Chris Wilcox have frontcourt flexibility.

Going small can help Boston achieve its goal of pushing the pace this season and could generate more transition opportunities with more speed -- and more players willing to run -- around Rondo. Boston flirted with smaller lineups at times last season, but has added versatility this year.

"We played a lot of small ball last year, with Paul at the 4 and Mickael Pietrus [at the 3], but obviously we have Jeff this year, a couple other guys, so, we can mix it up a little bit more this year, as far as depth," said Rondo.

Green might be the key cog in all of this. The Celtics have stressed a desire for him to play with more power as a small forward, but be an uptempo power forward, exploiting his athleticism. The Celtics can trot out a lineup like Rondo-Lee-Pierce-Green-Garnett, which puts a lot of shooting on the floor but also allows Boston to attack in transition.

"[Green is] the main guy when you talk about the small lineup," said Rondo. "He played the 4 in Oklahoma City. He stretched the floor with his shooting. He beat a lot of bigs down the floor as well, so he can go from the 4 to the 3, and, defensively, he can check 1 through 4, I believe. So, we expect a lot out of Jeff, but he's fine with that."

Green has expressed a strong desire to spend more time at small forward in Boston's system, but smiled and didn't argue when Rivers informed him Monday that the team was going small and he'd be at the 4 more for the session. Green is open to Rivers utilizing him multiple ways as long as it means more floor time overall.

"I mean, that's [Rivers] using me to the best of my abilities, being able to play multiple positions, and guard multiple positions," said Green. "Me playing the 3 at times, me playing the 4, is what I can do, and what he's going to put me on the floor to do. I'm looking forward to it."

Read on for a handful of notes from pre-practice access on Monday:

(Read full post)

Camp fire: Maximizing possessions

September, 30, 2012

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics opened training camp with three specific areas of focus: limiting turnovers, pace of play, and rebounding. All have one thing in common: Maximizing possessions.

The Celtics have always been a defense-first team, but they've shot themselves in the foot by struggling in those three facets of the game. Turnovers and sloppy ball-handling have limited Boston's offensive chances (as Rivers noted, his team is actually pretty good when it gets a shot at the rim). Those missed opportunities put a larger strain on the defense, which hasn't helped its own cause by being atrocious on the glass and allowing second- (and third- and fourth-) chance opportunities.

Boston essentially is trying to get out of its own way.

"Nothing has changed at all, we’re still about defense," said Rivers. "Having said that, you can still score. You know, when you’re on offense, you’re not playing defense. And really, we need to just increase our pace. But we turned the ball over too much last year. I thought, over anything, that hurt our offense -- when you look at our efficiency, when we actually got a shot up at the basket, we were pretty good. I would like to increase the pace of play a little bit. I just think we’re a little different of a team, we can run more pick-and-rolls with multiple guys, so that’s what we want to do."

The Celtics ranked 21st in the league in pace (90.4 possessions per 48 minutes), 26th in scoring offense (91.8 points per game), 25th in turnover percentage (14.7 percent), and 20th in defensive rebound percentage (72.4 percent) last year. All that worked to negate the efforts of a defense that ranked first in opponent field goal percentage (41.9 percent) and second in defensive scoring average (89.3).

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has stressed a desire to value the ball more this season and Rivers has emphasized that to the team as a whole. Boston made great strides last season, particularly in the playoffs, to limit their giveaways and it played a huge part in their run to the cusp of the NBA Finals.

"I thought we made a change in the second half of the year, where we cut our turnovers down," said Rivers. "And in the playoffs we did a great job, and I thought we were just more selective who we passed it to on the elbows, as far as the bigs. Before, we would pretty much pass it to any big and run action. In the second half of the year, we basically designated passers and pickers, and I thought that made a difference."

As for pushing the pace, Rivers bottom-lined it by spotlighting Boston's offseason additions: "We haven’t had guys that really wanted to run. And I think we have more of those guys now. So that helps."

A handful of other notes from Day 2 of camp:

* Lee battling thigh bruise: Rivers revealed that starting shooting guard Courtney Lee is battling a minor injury at the start of camp, but it hasn't kept him off the floor. "Well, he’s still working it out, he got injured about two weeks ago with a thigh bruise, so he’s kinda slowly getting back in to it. But what I’m expecting to see [from Lee] is an all-around player. I think he does a lot of things well that helps our team. He can play multiple positions, terrific shooter, terrific defender, terrific team player. He does a lot for us."

* Wilcox limited on Day 2: Rivers cautioned Saturday that we need to remember that Chris Wilcox underwent heart surgery nearly four months after Jeff Green, so he's a little further behind in terms of recovery. After pushing him full throttle on Day 1, the Celtics limited Wilcox on Day 2. In the portion open to reporters at the end of Sunday's session, Wilcox did not engage in skeleton drills and appeared to be dressed as a first-unit backup for rest purposes on earlier drills. That allowed rookie Jared Sullinger to spend more time at the 4 with the second unit.

(Read full post)



Jared Sullinger
14.2 2.2 0.7 28.7
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.2
AssistsE. Turner 4.4
StealsM. Smart 1.1
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.7