Celtics following the trend of smaller lineups

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Celtics following the trend of smaller lineups

MIAMI The NBA has a different look and feel about it these days.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the many teams that are getting a big boost out of small lineups -- the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat included.

When the two face each other in the season opener on Tuesday night, both will unveil lineups that continue a league-wide trend that steers further and further away from traditional five-man lineups.

"It's going to continue to change," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "There's no longer, 'You gotta put a center on the floor. You gotta put a power forward.' You're going to put your best five on the floor and usually your best five offensive guys on the floor."

The position that has been most impacted by this change in philosophy, is the center position. And the reason is obvious. There just aren't that many good ones, and so teams try to make due with power forwards who can also play center.

Kevin Garnett has spent most of his career at power forward, but he is now Boston's starting center. While he still may play some at power forward, the bulk of his's minutes will be at center.

Ditto for Miami's Chris Bosh who like Garnett, is a slender power forward that has been converted into a center.

But don't think for a minute that because of the position change, these players spend most of their time around the basket.

In fact, Garnett and Bosh are part of a new generation of NBA big men who have the ability to stretch defenses with their perimeter shooting in addition to being able to score around the basket.

Rivers doesn't see teams going back to the days of having a true center with any kind of consistency for one reason.

Most NBA centers aren't exceptional. Aside from Philadelphia's Andrew Bynum and the Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard, a case could be made that there's not another dominant center in the league.

Don't think for a minute that will stop teams from continuing to look.

"Trust me, every coach would love to have a dominant center," Rivers said. "There's no doubt about that. If there are none, then why just throw one out there?"

Miami's Shane Battier has spent the bulk of his NBA career playing small forward as well as some at shooting guard. But with the Heat, the 6-foot-8 Battier is being asked to learn how to play the power forward position as well.

"It's a lot more, 'Get your players on the court and make plays,' " Battier said. "What position is LeBron? Really? He's a little bit of everything. He's one of the few guys you can craft a whole system around."

Or in the case of Boston's Jeff Green, a case could be made that having such versatility allows a player to fit into whatever system they are asked to play in.

"We're hybrids; that's how I define guys like myself," said Green who will play at least two or three different positions for the C's this season. "We're a rare commodity so everybody is looking all over the place for us."

Small not only benefits versatile bigs like James and Green, but also combination guards like Jason Terry who often finds himself in the game with another sort-of, kind-of, but-not-really-big-man like Green who is at his best when running the floor.

"This league is all about matchups," Terry said. "Coaches are always looking for that matchup to exploit, to take advantage of. Having smaller lineups allows your best playmakers to play more, do what they do best."

And that could be a good thing -- a very good thing -- for the Celtics this season.

"What I like about our team, against the big teams we can go big," said Rivers who mentioned Jason Collins, Darko Milicic and Chris Wilcox as legitimate options at the center position.

"Against teams that go small, that's dangerous. If you go small against us, you may be playing into our hands. This year's group, our small lineups are pretty lethal."

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

*Chris Pronger takes a job in the front office of the Florida Panthers and wants to be a GM in the NHL someday.

*It sounds like Alex Radulov is playing contract chicken with the Montreal Canadiens while demanding pretty massive term and salary demands.

*Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a top-nine winger on his wish list after dealing away Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

*A good look from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jon Rosen into what the draft outlook is for the Los Angeles Kings entering this weekend.

*Ryan Strome is ecstatic about moving on from the New York Islanders and heading to the Edmonton Oilers where he’ll get a chance to fully utilize the skills that went under the radar in Brooklyn.

*Even without a high pick, the Buffalo Sabres and Jason Botterill will be making some moves at the NHL Draft.

*You want some talk about the Bruins prospects and their potential draft targets for the Black and Gold this weekend. Here’s FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke on with a podcast up in Maine called the Bruins Diehards talking all of that good stuff just a couple of days ago.

*Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall is going searching for another goalie after once again deciding that Philly needs more help between the pipes. This seems to be a perpetual situation for this group, doesn’t it?

*Jeff Marek has his final 2017 NHL Mock Draft up and running, and he has St. Cloud State forward Ryan Poehling headed to Boston with the No. 18 pick.

*Apparently Linda Cohn wants to push out Gary Bettman and take over as NHL Commissioner when her contract is up with ESPN. Well, okay then.

*It was a little emotional and totally uplifting to see Denna Laing getting saluted at the NHL Awards ceremony. I’m so glad that my daughter has strong role models like Denna that show young women what courage and character are all about.

*The rumor mill is getting worked up at NHL Draft weekend, and it sounds like the Minnesota Wild are going to be busy potentially dealing Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella or Jason Pominville in the next week or two. Certainly, the Bruins have been front and center in those discussions, but it remains to be seen if something gets done.

*For something completely different: The glowing reviews are coming in for the new Netflix series, GLOW, and it doesn’t sound like a fun concept.

 

Report: Bruins among several teams interested in Wild's Scandella

Report: Bruins among several teams interested in Wild's Scandella

CHICAGO – The Bruins missed out on the first flurry of defensemen traded on Friday morning, but they may be in on the second wave of quality D-men expected to be made available around the NHL Draft.

The Bruins are one of several teams actively in discussions with the Minnesota Wild about defenseman Marco Scandella, who fits the profile of what the B's are looking for to fill a top-four role. TVA’s Ren Lavoie was the first to report the latest interest but the Bruins have long been watching the Minnesota back-end situation waiting for one of their defenders to become available.

Scandella, 27, is big, at 6-foot-3, 205-pounds, he’s got a few years of NHL experience, he’s a left-handed shot and he’s already proven he can be a top-four defenseman in the NHL. Scandella is coming off a so-so season with the Wild where he posted four goals and 13 points along with a minus-2 rating in 71 games. and for the first time in three seasons, he averaged under 20 minutes of ice time for the first time in the past three seasons.

RELATED: Haggerty's Mock Draft 4.0: Expect a frenzy of pre-draft trades 

Scandella would be a good potential fit on the left side in a top-four role playing in a pairing with Charlie McAvoy as the B's look for a good, mobile partner that can play at both ends of the ice. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they are clearly not the only team in the running for the Montreal-born Scandella. One of those teams is his hometown Montreal Canadiens, who are hungry for a few D-men after losing several in the past couple of weeks.

There are other names filtering out of Chicago as the draft gets underway tonight. One of the more interesting D-names is Massachusetts native Noah Hanifin. The former Boston College standout is rumored to be available as the Carolina Hurricanes look to bring some star power in at the forward position. He was the player Boston initially wanted in the draft a couple of years ago before standing pat and selecting Jakub Zboril as one of three consecutive first-round picks.

There doesn’t seem to be a match for Hanifin with David Pastrnak as the only realistic option to be going to Carolina in return and that’s not something the Bruins are going to entertain with one of their cornerstone roster pieces. Still, it’s encouraging that so many quality D-man names are emerging on the trade market with Don Sweeney and the Bruins looking to get down to business this weekend.