Celts take advantage of small-ball lineup in Game 1

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Celts take advantage of small-ball lineup in Game 1

BOSTON With all the injuries that the Boston Celtics have endured this season in the front court, they've had to rely on a smaller lineup more often than they would like.

Well all that "small ball" practice paid off in Boston's 92-91 Game 1 win over Philadelphia in the second round of their best-of-seven playoff series.

In fact, it was Boston's smaller lineup that allowed them to erase a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter and rally for the win.

"We have to do a better job of when they go small, and understanding what we have to do," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "It doesn't change you as much offensively as it does defensively. When Paul Pierce goes to and plays like the power forward, they run a lot of screen-roll, him and (Kevin) Garnett. And what are you going to do on the coverage now when you have a lot of other guys who can shoot the ball? When they have one less big, it becomes more on the defensive end than it does on the offensive end."

It has to be that way for the Sixers, a team that ranks among the NBA's worst in rebounding due to a lack of frontcourt size.

Because of that, Collins says he can't approach dealing with the Celtics' smaller lineup in the manner in which he would like to.

"We're not a team that can pound you inside," Collins said. "You end up having to match up small. My philosophy has always been if a team goes small against you, then you pound them. But we don't have that kind of team."

Philadelphia has fared well when teams have tried to go with a small lineup, in part because of the play of Thaddeus Young.

At 6-foot-8, Young has the ability to play both forward positions. But when teams go small, he slides over to the power forward spot where his quickness and ability to get to the basket usually causes major problems for opponents.

In the regular season, Young averaged 12.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game off the bench. His playoff numbers, however, are off.

He's averaging 6.9 points in the playoffs this year.

Young's versatility wasn't on display as much as Philadelphia would have wanted to in Game 1 courtesy of a knee to the shin from Boston's Ryan Hollins in the second quarter. The shin injury led directly to Young rolling his ankle as well.

"He's wild, man," Young told CSNNE.com about Hollins. "That dude is wild."

The injury limited Young to just under 22 minutes played, as he scored five points.

"Not having Thad (for long stretches), not being able to play small ball when the guys go small-ball, would hurt the team," said Sixers big man Elton Brand.

Said Collins: "(Small lineups) helps Thad. We just didn't take advantage of that (in Game 1)."

Not only did the Celtics do a better job in terms of their offensive execution with the smaller lineup, they were a surprisingly dominant rebounding team once they went into full blown small-ball mode.

The Celtics had a small lineup on the floor throughout the entire fourth quarter.

After being out-rebounded for most of the first three quarters, Boston's small-ball lineup allowed them to grab 15 rebounds compared to just eight for the Sixers.

"You gotta pick up those long rebounds," Collins said shortly after Saturday's loss. "Boston scrummed out some balls and beat us on some hustle balls. It wasn't' like their big guys were rebounding. It's where everybody's gotta get back and rebound the ball."

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


 

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
 
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
 
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
 
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
 
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
 
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
 
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
 
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
 
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
 
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”