Celtics' roster shuffle yields familiar result


Celtics' roster shuffle yields familiar result

BOSTON Well before the Boston Celtics were struggling, head coach Doc Rivers was giving some thought to putting Brandon Bass in the starting lineup ahead of Jermaine O'Neal.

"I've been thinking about it since camp," Rivers said.

Rivers trotted out his new lineup on Friday, and the result was an all too familiar loss as the Chicago Bulls held on for an 88-79 win.

The C's (4-6) have now lost three in a row, and they're off to the worst 10-game start to the season since 2006 - the year before the Big Three joined forces.

"We're still young in the season," said Boston's Ray Allen. "We know what's in us, and we know what this team is capable of. The adversity has struck us early, but we're all in."

Part of being "all in" involves adapting to changes that Rivers believes will help the C's moving forward.

One of those changes was on full display Friday night as Bass made his first start with the Green team.

He had 10 points and nine rebounds while playing just under 33 minutes.

Rivers hasn't decided on whether he'll keep Bass in the starting lineup Saturday against Indiana, but did say that it's a lineup that you'll see "70 percent" of the time.

"There will be nights where I think size will be a factor," said Rivers, who added that Saturday's game against the Pacers is one of those games. "I'm not sure which way we'll go. I just sat JO and Brandon down and I said, 'you two will be our starters.' And that there will be nights when one starts, and there will be nights when the other starts."

Bass' play certainly is a major factor in Rivers' decision to play him at times with the first unit.

But as Rivers points out, it also gives the Celtics more depth in the middle.

"I thought it gave us more versatility and I thought our rotations were easier when you bring Jermaine in for Kevin (Garnett) you stay big," Rivers said. "And what I'm trying to do is always have Jermaine or Kevin - just size on the floor more."

Garnett recognizes, understands and appreciates Rivers' willingness to do whatever he has to do in order to get the C's on track this season.

"Doc's going to play with different lineups, do what he feels is best for the team," Garnett said. "And we're going to support whatever that is. Anybody that's going to be part of that transition, will understand what it is. We're all in here, trying to figure this thing out together.

Garnett added, "these are dog days; these are the days where you're going to really see who is with you, who is fair-weather, but we're going to continue to work. Whatever Doc feels is best for the team, we're going to support either way."

Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?


Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.


Ex-Pats Moss, Law and Seymour among Hall of Fame semifinalists


Ex-Pats Moss, Law and Seymour among Hall of Fame semifinalists

Former Patriots Randy Moss, Ty Law and Richard Seymour are among 27 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018.

In January, selectors will reduce the list to 15 finalists, who will join seniors Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer and contributor Bobby Beathard on the final ballot. The annual selection meeting will take place Feb.y 3, the day before Super Bowl LII.

Click here for the complete story from NBC's Pro Football Talk.