The talented Zach Lowe, formerly of SI's Point Forward, details how Boston's newfound versatility might fare against the defending champs. Riddled with injuries during the Eastern Conference Finals last June, the Celtics were forced into some brutal mismatches with Brandon Bass checking LeBron and nobody strong enough or quick enough to guard Wade on the perimeter. But after Danny's successful off-season in filling out the roster, Doc will now have the ability to throw different combinations at Spoelstra.
Paul Pierce will of course defend LeBron in crunch time, though I'm convinced a big part of the reason Boston overpaid for Jeff Green is the possibility he may fare much better than expected as a part-time LeBron defender. I recently watched several hours of film of Green's defense at both forward positions, and after awhile, it became obvious Green's ideal defensive matchup would be a small forward with a shaky jump shot. Green will always be a tweener, and as such, he has to concede something to both forward types. He's at a size disadvantage in the post against power forwards and a quickness disadvantage on the perimeter against wings. He makes up for the latter by taking a step or two back and surrendering the jump shot - a losing strategy against an ace jump-shooter. LeBron is not yet an ace jump-shooter, though he's closer than he was two or three years ago. Green won't always be able to contain James off the dribble, but he's smart about how he moves his feet in one-on-one situations, and he'll have Boston's help defenders backing him up. He's strong enough to deal with LeBron in the post. To be clear: Green has never been a plus defender, and he's not going to be Boston's best option - or even (as we'll see below) a part of Boston's likely closing lineups against Miami. But if he can hold the fort well enough to spare Pierce some LeBron time, that's good enough.
Lowe also introduces the concept of "hiders": "guys whose offensive games are limited enough that teams can hide subpar defenders on them." Because of Mario Chalmers', Mike Miller's, and Shane Battier's roles in the Heat offense as spot up shooters, they're players that opposing teams can "hide" their worst defenders on. If Doc's committed to using Jason Terry in his closing lineup, he'll be able to throw him on one of the guard "hiders." That should also free up Paul Pierce to freelance a little if Green's guarding LeBron and PP is forced to guard the other wing "hider." He won't be able to stray to far into center field with those shooters on the perimeter, but not being on Lebron all game will help preserve his legs and fouls.