Before heading out to Turkey and Milan for two exhibition games, the Celtics got in one last practice and concentrated on smaller lineups and Rondo-less sets. Doc has put on a premium on running the ball and scoring in transition this season and it sounds like today's workout at Waltham utilized the team's versatility that we've been excited about all summer:
"[Rondo] will be very happy. We put [the small lineups] in yesterday, but we didn't work on it. Today, almost exclusively, we'll have small lineups on the floor," said Rivers. "We're going to change them all around, so that will be fun. This is the first year that we've actually really worked on it. We're going to work on it every day."
The Celtics like the flexibility available this season. Jeff Green can play either forward position, while Jason Terry can play both guard spots. Paul Pierce and Courtney Lee can line up at either wing position, while Kevin Garnett and Chris Wilcox have frontcourt flexibility.
With reports that Jeff Green came to camp in the best shape and shows no setbacks from his surgery, it's great to hear that he'll be running the wing full sprint with Rondo this fall. He'll probably see more PT at small forward spelling Paul Pierce, but there will definitely be stretches where he'll slide into the 4 spot and give Boston a quicker look. Add the 235-pound gazelle Chris Wilcox and a three guard lineup of Rondo, Terry, and Lee (and later, Avery Bradley) and you've got a fast breaking team that would make Red Auerbach proud.
My biggest concern is where the rebounding will come from with these speed units. With all due respect to Garnett, we won't have Bill Russell back there outletting to Bob Cousy. My guess is that with these smaller lineups, our defense will be much more trap-heavy on the perimeter and try to keep the ball from entering the post. That's going to lead to a lot of perimeter shooting and long rebounds. The Thibodeau system that we've been running overloads the ball side and if we want to run, we have to take care of the defensive glass on the weak side. Rebounding has been one of our Achilles heels, so it's going to be really important that the back side guards rebound with the bigs.
Doc Rivers is impressed with Terry's ball-handling, so look for him to exclusively back up Rondo at the point until Bradley returns.— Jimmy Toscano (@Jimmy_Toscano) October 1, 2012
That said, Rivers noted that if Rondo isn't in there C's are "trying to create offense so it's not a point guard-dominant offense".— Jimmy Toscano (@Jimmy_Toscano) October 1, 2012
If Pierce and KG are put on the 5-5-5 plan that helped save Garnett's legs for the post-season, we'll see Rondo out there running the point when that 2nd unit transition team hits the floor, but there are going to be times when he'll be on the bench, too. As expected, it sounds like Doc will be using Terry as his back up ball handler. Without Rondo, the offense will probably be triggered by more pick and rolls and less off ball sets. PnR's were Terry's bread and butter in Dallas so we should be in good hands when the Jet is on the floor.
Knock on wood, there's only really one injury of note to report: Chris Wilcox sat out this afternoon. It's only been six months since his surgery and the big man is still getting into basketball shape. He's also taken a few good shots in practice already (Darko!) and this day off is purely precautionary.