Celtics' small lineup comes up big

Celtics' small lineup comes up big
April 5, 2012, 10:08 am
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BOSTON At one point in Wednesday's loss to San Antonio, the Celtics had a lineup on the floor that had four guards 6-foot-5 or shorter and an undersized power forward in 6-8 Brandon Bass, at center.
If you missed it, no need to worry.
There's a good chance that you'll see some incarnation of Boston's "small ball" lineup tonight against Chicago.
"The Bulls go small as well," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
But they do so as part of their game plan, which allows them to be effective with a big lineup as well as a small one.
With so few big men on the roster, Boston has no choice most nights but to go with an undersized unit from time to time.
And while it does leave the C's vulnerable to getting clobbered on the boards, having a floor full of guards has its positives as well.
That was certainly the case in the Spurs loss, with the guard-oriented unit helping Boston chip away at a 17-point deficit and ultimately take the lead late into the fourth quarter.
"The small lineup saved us against the Spurs," said coach Doc Rivers. "Because the big lineup was killing us."
Kevin Garnett also spent some time on the floor with a small lineup that had him at center.
"I thought it made us quicker, and more scrappier," Garnett said. "We got more loose balls."
And it was desperately needed against a San Antonio Spurs team that seemed on the verge of making it a blowout until the C's small-ball unit returned the game to a more competitive state.
"On a night where we needed to do something different, because we weren't getting any stops and we weren't getting out in transition," said Keyon Dooling, who saw action with the C's small-ball units. "It was a great changeup for us. Everybody came in and played well."
Among the Celtics who probably flourishes most with the smaller lineup is Rajon Rondo. Already one of the better rebounding guards in the NBA, having a floor full of guards allows him to get out and play at a tempo more to his liking.
"We're a lot faster," Rondo said. "We want to run and score in the first six seconds. With guards on the court with you, they can get down and spread the floor; Avery Bradley going to basket, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce stretching with the three."It was a good time for the C's small-ball group to have some success with the playoffs right around the corner.
"Just to be able to have that versatility and to be able to get some regular season experience in the playoffs, it could be all kinds of lineups out there," Dooling said. "So it's good to get that small ball experience because we may run into a team that plays small lineups. Not only is it good for us and what we do, but also good to be able to match up with teams and not miss a beat."