Boston Celtics

Rivers has Celtics working on small ball early in camp

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Rivers has Celtics working on small ball early in camp

WALTHAM There was plenty of jokes and small talk surrounding the Celtics' impending trip to Europe on Monday, but the team does actually have a practice before they go.

Losing a day of camp due to travel means that there's certainly no time to take the days available for granted. So how did the C's tackle Monday's session before liftoff?

In a small way. Small ball, to be exact.

Based on how the team's roster is constructed, the C's have the ability to put out combinations of players that slide into multiple roles. They're deep at the guard position, and that's not even counting an injured Avery Bradley. Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry will all see time at the shooting guard position, with Lee being able to play at small forward as well.

Green is a small forward but will see time at the power forward position, and don't be surprised if Paul Pierce makes appearances there too in certain small ball lineups.

So, yeah, a lineup or Rondo, Terry, Lee, PierceGreen, and Bass is very possible but only if it works in practice.

"We put small lineups in yesterday but we didn't work on it, so today we're going to almost exclusively have small lineups on the floor, and we're going to change them all around, so that'll be fun," Doc Rivers said. "This is the first year that we've actually really worked on it, and we're going to work on it so we can do it every day."

The Celtics have used small ball lineups in the past, dating back to the days of James Posey, so the notion that this is uncharted territory is a bit off. Still, Rivers making a point to focus on it proves that it should be a bigger part of the offense this season.

"I don't know if we'll use more small ball but we'll use it effectively," Rivers said. "So we'll be able to go back and forth. We'll be able to go big too, with Jeff and Paul at the two and three. So we have a lot of lineups on paper that look good, and we'll see how they look when the season starts."

With all the possible lineups, Rivers is sounding more and more like Bill Belichick and his love for versatility.

Speaking on the backup point guard position, Rivers commended Terry's ball-handling skills, calling him a "natural at the point". That said, he also noted that if Rondo isn't in the game, the team is looking to "create offense so it's not a point guard-dominant offense." That most likely means getting out on the break, using athleticism over set plays

Multiple lineups. Multiple looks. Multiple sets. Pick and roll. Motion. Half-court. Up-tempo. You name it, it looks like Rivers is considering it.

Photo of Celtics' 1963 White House visit recalls a simpler time

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Photo of Celtics' 1963 White House visit recalls a simpler time

As the controversy raged Saturday over President Donald Trump's tweet rescinding the White House invitation to Golden State Warriors' star Stephen Curry, a tweeted photo recalling a simpler time for sports team's presidential visits appeared. 

The nostalgic Twitter account @the_60s_at_50 posted a photo from the Celtics' visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and its principal occupant, John F. Kennedy, on Jan. 31, 1963. JFK had invited his hometown NBA team into the Oval Office for what seemed to be a spur-of-the-moment visit.

A newspaper account of the visit was also posted. The defending NBA champion Celtics were in the Washington area to play the Cincinnati Royals at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House that night and had been taking a tour of the White House when Kennedy invited them in. 

All the team members were there except for star center Bill Russell, who, of course, experienced incidents of racism in Boston that were well-documented. However, Russell's absence was blamed on him oversleeping. His teammates said they didn't know they would meet Kennedy on the tour.  

And yes, that's Celtics legend - and CSN's own - Tommy Heinsohn second from right. Coach Red Auerbach is next to the President on the left, Bob Cousy is next to Auerbach and John Havlicek is the first player in the second row on the left.