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.

LeBron James hasn't always been dominant the game after a bad performance

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LeBron James hasn't always been dominant the game after a bad performance

Conventional wisdom has been spreading almost from the moment Avery Bradley's shot (finally) dropped through the cylinder in the closing seconds Sunday night, and it goes something like this:

LeBron James was so bad in Game 3 that, determined to exact revenge, he's going to come out like a force of nature and obliterate the Celtics in Game 4.

Makes sense. But, you know, LeBron has had other playoff games in which he's scored fewer than 12 points. He's always been good the next time out -- certainly better than >12 points -- but nothing sweeping or historic:

And amazingly enough, his teams lost two of those three games.

So if you were thinking the Celtics' Game 3 triumph virtually guaranteed a Cavalier victory and a dominant LeBron James performance in Game 4 . . . well, maybe not.

Amir Johnson a game-time decision for Game 4 with shoulder injury

Amir Johnson a game-time decision for Game 4 with shoulder injury


CLEVELAND – Brad Stevens won’t know until shortly before tip-off tonight if he will have to make another lineup change.
 
Amir Johnson, whose right shoulder was injured in the Celtics' 111-108 Game 3 win on Sunday, is questionable for tonight’s Game 4.
 
“It’s better for sure,” Johnson told CSN this morning. “Yesterday, it was hard to lift. Today, I can move it all around. In shoot-around, I’m going to get a couple shots, see how it feels and go from there.
 
He added, “it’s definitely going to be a game-time decision. I’m going to go and shoot around, just to get a feel. And then for the game-time, I’ll shoot around some more, see how it feels and take it from there.”
 
Healthy or not, Johnson being with the starting group is far from a given.
 
The 6-foot-9 veteran has consistently been the first starter subbed out and usually winds up playing the fewest minutes.
 
In Game 3, two of his backups – Kelly Olynyk (15 points) and Jonas Jerebko (10 points) – shined brightly.
 
Here are some other highlights from the Celtics’ morning shoot-around.
 
THOMAS UPDATE: Isaiah Thomas met with a hip specialist on Monday, according to Stevens. “Still collecting information,” said Stevens, adding, “We’ll wait and see or we’ll discuss second, and third, and fourth, and fifth opinions.”

Thomas injured his right hip March 15 and later re-aggravated it in the first half of the Game 2 loss Friday. Less than 24 hours later, he was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.
 
He was replaced by Marcus Smart in the starting lineup and Smart responded with a career-high 27 points in Game 3, which included seven made 3’s which is a career-best mark as well.
 
BOUNCE-BACK CELTICS: The Celtics winning Game 3 sent shockwaves throughout the league, especially coming on the heels of a 44-point home court drubbing at the hands of the Cavs. “If you’re in sports long enough you’re going to have clunkers,” Stevens said. “You’re going to have games that don’t go your way. And our guys took seriously the idea of responding and just playing the next possession as well as they could.”
 
ROZIER HOMECOMING: The second-year guard grew up in nearby Youngstown, Ohio (75 miles southeast of Cleveland), so you can expect he’ll have a decent contingent of fans at tonight's game.
 
While he’s all-in for the Celtics, the same is not true of his friends and some family members.
 
“My family does a good job of staying on my side except for my one younger cousin,” Rozier said. “She loves LeBron.”