Celtics may shuffle lineup vs. stacked Nets

Celtics may shuffle lineup vs. stacked Nets
January 25, 2014, 7:15 pm
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WALTHAM, Mass. — Sensing that his current starting five might face one too many mismatches at the start of the Sunday's game against the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said there could "potentially" be yet another change to the starting lineup.

Stevens said the Nets, winners of nine of their last 10 games, have become a different team since they made the decision to move Paul Pierce to the power forward position.

"So now you got (Alan) Anderson, Pierce, (Joe) Johnson, 2 (shooting guard), 3 (small forward), 4 (power forward). They're all interchangeable," Stevens said.

That means based on Boston's current starting five, either Kris Humphries or Jared Sullinger would be matched against one of those players at some point to start the game.

And when you throw in Shawn Livingston's size advantage over most point guards and All-Star Deron Williams now coming off the bench coupled with Kevin Garnett shifting over to the center position which creates another Brooklyn advantage, Stevens has every reason to seriously consider making a pre-emptive strike and go with a new lineup.

"You got a lot of guys that are really able to take advantage of their matchups by playing a position down," Stevens said of the Nets. "And their bodies would suggest they can play a position down because they are so big and agile anyways."

And the key to it all is the former Celtic Paul Pierce.

"The thing that this team does a great job of, they find matchups and exploit matchups," Stevens said. "Think back to the days when Paul Pierce was here and all the late games where you'd isolate Paul Pierce on the wing or top of the key. And he'd get the matchup he wanted and exploit the matchup."

If Pierce were the lone player with that talent, that in itself would be challenging.

But the Nets have more, plenty more players who have comparable talents in that regard.

"You got a guy like Pierce who can do that. You got Deron Williams who can do that," Stevens said. "You got Joe Johnson who is doing it great, has been doing it great all year. You got all kinds of different options there. And now you got Garnett who is playing a position lower which allows him to step out and shoot against some of the bigger 5's in the league."

And to think this new-look lineup came about because of a season-ending injury to their starting center, Brook Lopez.

"The silver lining to what was a really tough, nasty injury to them," Stevens said, "is those guys are all in a position that they're really taking advantage of."

As for the Celtics, if they do make a change it would likely be Kris Humphries or Jared Sullinger coming out of the starting lineup and being replaced by Brandon Bass or Kelly Olynyk.

Bass might make more sense considering the ability he has shown this season to switch out defensively from centers to power forwards in addition to holding his own against elite small forwards such as New York's Carmelo Anthony and Miami's LeBron James.

"Whatever the team needs me to do, that's what I'll do," Bass told CSNNE.com recently. "I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help us win some games."