The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Coach Doc Rivers was also satisfied with Sunday's session, only the third official workout of the Celtics' preseason. Rivers is working with several combinations, emphasizing a "small ball" lineup with Jeff Green at power forward and also attempting to develop a new second unit, led by Jason Terry.

"Small ball."

Boy, it doesn't seem like that long ago that the Los Angeles Lakers were at a crossroads in franchise history, having just been dispatched in five games by the Houston Rockets during the 1986 Western Confernce Finals. The Rockets were led by 7-4 Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon (whose height may or may not have been 7-0). In an effort to keep up with the Joneses, Jerry West, GM for the Lakers, came very close to trading James Worthy to the Mavs for seven footer Roy Tarpley who would then have teamed up with 7-2 Kareem Abdul Jabaar to give the purple a Twin Tower lineup of their own. Instead, the Lakers simply regrouped, and then acquired center Mychal Thompson at mid-season to complete their retooling effort. Back then talented seven foot centers were plentiful.

Not so much today. Dwight Howard is thought to be the best center in the league, and he's 6-10. Andrew Bynum is considered by many to be the second best center in the league, and while he measures in at around 7-1, his knees are gimpy at best, and render him slightly above ordinary on any given night. Then you have Tyson Chandler, and a couple of others legit 7-footers who are less than dominant. But this is certainly not the era of Moses, Parish, Walton, Ewing, Jabbar, Sampson, Hakeem, just to name a few.

So how do teams play ball today?

Well, we need look no further than the Boston Celtics to answer that question.

Kevin Garnett has spent most of his career resisting coaching efforts to place him in the pivot, and that resistance has probably reduced the wear and tear on his body and lengthened his career. Starting last spring, his resistance was finally overcome by Doc Rivers, and not coincidentally his move to the 5-spot turned the Celtics season around. The thought was Garnett would be back in the post this season.

I have no doubt this is true.

But if most teams will be sporting a roster with a Kevin-Love type at center, well, that will open up some doors for Doc to tinker with his lineups. The latest line-up change might be titled "Back to the Future," as Jeff Green is being tried as a Fast Four. I find this interesting because one reason Green was dealt to Boston was his failure to thrive at the four in OKC. In fact, if we were being honest, Green was getting his ass kicked by much taller, bulkier fours all season long. That would supposedly change in Boston, where Doc would presumably return Green to his more natural position at small forward.

Doesn't sound like that is the main game plan.

And if Green is the fast four off the bench, who is playing center along side him? Likely answers include Chris Wilcox, Jared Sullinger, and maybe even Brandon Bass, all three of whom are natural power forwards. I don't see Doc going with Darko or Jason Collins at center if Jeff Green is playing the 4. Like most things Doc does, this too will be evaluated by its success. I do know one thing: the Celtics have a whole lotta guys on the depth chart at power forward. Then again, if we think back to 2007-08, Glen Davis and Leon Powe, both natural power forwards, played a lot of back-up center, and did so effectively.


FLCeltsFan said...

I think Wilcox would be a great center for the fast break small lineup.

Doc can create matchup havoc on any given night with the versatility on this roster.

bballee said...

Key qualities for center on fast break team: grab rebound and trigger outlet pass. Russell and Kareem were seldom finishing the fast break but led perhaps the most aggressive and dominant fast break teams in history.

FLCeltsFan said...

Excellent point Lee. In that case, Maybe Sully would be good since he's an excellent rebounder and passer.

Lex said...

Cw & js will get a lot 0 pt

A small ball, fast break second unit is kind of exciting

FLCeltsFan said...

More than kind of.... absolutely exciting!!

Lex said...

do you remember when chris ford took over?

Get your track shoes on fellas, cuz we're gonna run!

that was the team that started 29-5 with reggie, shaw, brown, pinckney and the old guys.

Doc is pretty clever.

Carlgsod said...

More than kind of.... absolutely exciting!!

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