Celtics' small lineup comes up big


Celtics' small lineup comes up big

BOSTON At one point in Wednesday's loss to San Antonio, the Celtics had a lineup on the floor that had four guards 6-foot-5 or shorter and an undersized power forward in 6-8 Brandon Bass, at center.
If you missed it, no need to worry.
There's a good chance that you'll see some incarnation of Boston's "small ball" lineup tonight against Chicago.
"The Bulls go small as well," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
But they do so as part of their game plan, which allows them to be effective with a big lineup as well as a small one.
With so few big men on the roster, Boston has no choice most nights but to go with an undersized unit from time to time.
And while it does leave the C's vulnerable to getting clobbered on the boards, having a floor full of guards has its positives as well.
That was certainly the case in the Spurs loss, with the guard-oriented unit helping Boston chip away at a 17-point deficit and ultimately take the lead late into the fourth quarter.
"The small lineup saved us against the Spurs," said coach Doc Rivers. "Because the big lineup was killing us."
Kevin Garnett also spent some time on the floor with a small lineup that had him at center.
"I thought it made us quicker, and more scrappier," Garnett said. "We got more loose balls."
And it was desperately needed against a San Antonio Spurs team that seemed on the verge of making it a blowout until the C's small-ball unit returned the game to a more competitive state.
"On a night where we needed to do something different, because we weren't getting any stops and we weren't getting out in transition," said Keyon Dooling, who saw action with the C's small-ball units. "It was a great changeup for us. Everybody came in and played well."
Among the Celtics who probably flourishes most with the smaller lineup is Rajon Rondo. Already one of the better rebounding guards in the NBA, having a floor full of guards allows him to get out and play at a tempo more to his liking.
"We're a lot faster," Rondo said. "We want to run and score in the first six seconds. With guards on the court with you, they can get down and spread the floor; Avery Bradley going to basket, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce stretching with the three."It was a good time for the C's small-ball group to have some success with the playoffs right around the corner.
"Just to be able to have that versatility and to be able to get some regular season experience in the playoffs, it could be all kinds of lineups out there," Dooling said. "So it's good to get that small ball experience because we may run into a team that plays small lineups. Not only is it good for us and what we do, but also good to be able to match up with teams and not miss a beat."

Bruins sign pair of draft picks, including BC's Fitzgerald, to entry-level deals

Bruins sign pair of draft picks, including BC's Fitzgerald, to entry-level deals

Amidst the current turmoil at the NHL level, the Bruins delivered a little good news about the future today . . . with more potentially to come. 

The Bruins announced the signing of a pair of prospects/former draft picks -- Boston College forward Ryan Fitzgerald and defenseman Emil Johansson -- to entry-level contracts that will kick in next season. There will likely be another wave of signings with the Bruins from the amateur ranks once players like Charlie McAvoy, Anders Bjork and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson are finished up with their college teams in the NCAA tournament, though it remains to be seen exactly which players end up taking the NHL plunge. 

There was some uncertainty as to whether Fitzgerald would definitely sign with Boston after completing his senior season at BC, but he will immediately join the Providence Bruins on an amateur tryout agreement after signing a two-year deal. Johansson will join the Bruins on a Professional Tryout Agreement with a three-year entry level deal that kicks off next season. 

The 5-foot-10, 177-pound Fitzgerald was an alternate captain for BC in 2016-17, with 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points in 34 games with 56 penalty minutes and a plus-14 rating. Fitzgerald is also the son of Billerica native and former Bruins forward Tommy Fitzgerald, who took to Twitter on Friday to voice his overwhelming pride over his oldest signing an NHL contract. He was a fourth-round pick by the Bruins in 2013.

Johansson, 20, completed his first season with Djurgardens IF of the Swedish Hockey League in 2016-17, establishing career highs with 7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points with 26 penalty minutes in 49 games. The B's selected him in the seventh round in 2014.

Report: Clippers' Griffin willing to consider Celtics in free agency

Report: Clippers' Griffin willing to consider Celtics in free agency

With all attention focused on overtaking the Cavs for the No. 1 seed in the East, the offseason -- trades, the draft, free agency -- is on the backburner in Celtics Nation these days.

But that pot's still simmering,

And it began to boil a little today when Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding, in the middle of a story on the Clippers being at a crossroad, threw a little accelerant on that old Blake Griffin-to-Boston flame . . .

But more and more people around the league believe he would be open to a fresh start — perhaps with the Lakers or the Boston Celtics, who have coveted Griffin for years and would offer a new chance to win. The most intriguing fit might be if he were to go home to Oklahoma to join Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, but his interests in the entertainment industry make staying in Los Angeles a priority.

Not much of a thread to grab there. But that didn't prevent cbssports.com's James Herbert from looking into it . . .  

Jumping to another contender on a max contract might not be simple. As CelticsBlog’s Keith P. Smith pointed out, Boston would have to dump Terry Rozier, waive Tyler Zeller and renounce all its free agents, including Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson, in order to even get near the amount of cap room that would be required to offer Griffin or someone like Gordon Hayward a max deal. 

Then again, Herbert says the Lakers and Thunder, Griffin's supposed other two destination spots, are even less financially flexible than the C's.

For now, it's all just a temporary diversion from the battle for No. 1.

It's also a reminder, though, that a whole new season -- the offseason -- is just around the corner.