BOSTON- The Boston Celtics during their run to the NBA title run in 07-08 had the luxury of a very potent weapon at their disposal. The Boston Celtics were able to employ a small lineup that was both fast, athletic, and could spread the floor. The Celtics unit of Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and James Posey wrecked havoc on the opposition as teams struggled to matchup against Boston’s smaller, but fast paced lineup.
The scary part for other teams was the fact that they were doomed to fail once this unit hit the floor for the Celtics. Most teams did not have the talent to match the Celtics man for man in a smaller unit. The fact was a young Rondo looked like a seasoned veteran leading a fast paced attacking style of offense. If Rondo did not make it to the basket to finish or dish to one of his big men in the paint to finish, he was dishing the ball out for a dagger long range bomb by one of his snipers at his disposal.
Most teams tried to utilize their larger lineups on the offensive end against this small Celtics lineup. The problem for these teams was the Celtics had the personnel that could defend or at least slow down the larger lineups. Posey playing the power forward spot could defend larger opponents. KG could stop most centers with his great defensive prowess. The rest of the unit could hold their own in their natural positions.
Posey would leave the Celtics after 08 and the small unit was no longer a legit weapon that head coach Doc Rivers had at his disposal. The Celtics had the other pieces for this unit despite Posey, but lacked a Posey like guy that was athletic enough to guard men at the power forward spot. This missing piece was a huge problem for Boston.
The Celtics tried many different lineups to try to replicate the success the original small lineup had. The team tried shifting Pierce to power forward and putting Marquis Daniels into the lineup, but Pierce struggled against power forwards on the defensive end. Daniels also struggled shooting the ball when he managed to be healthy.
Last season Boston used Mickael Pietrus at the position. Pietrus looked like he was going to work out. Pietrus could at least use his length to bother power forwards and his shot was more than solid enough to help Boston stretch the floor. The problem was Pietrus knee problems reduced him to a shell of himself once he reinsured his knee.
The lack of a small lineup was a huge problem because teams like the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder took notice and employed their own small lineups that wrecked havoc around the league. The fact is the Celtics struggled without the lineup against those teams.
This season the Celtics have the missing piece on the roster. Jeff Green is the man that can bring this successful lineup back to the weapon the Celtics desperately need it to be. I believe this to be the sole reason that Celtics President Danny Ainge both traded for Green and then after being injured last year with his heart ailment made the strong push to retain his services.
Green can do give the unit everything Posey provided. Green is a very athletic player with size that is used to covering power forwards. Green can also stretch the floor like Posey did with his shooting. The bonus for the Celtics is Green is better at running the floor than Posey was and thus should get more easy transition baskets for the Celtics than Posey could.
The fact Green is the missing piece is not lost on the Celtics players or coaches. Rondo called Green the key to the Celtics new attack on offense. Pierce echoed the same sentiments during his own interviews. Rivers has employed a ton of practice time with his new small unit being featured thus far in training camp.
The fact is Jeff Green is a Boston Celtics for one reason only. The reason is to give the Boston Celtics the added weapon of a small unit that will create matchup problems and help them matchup with other title contenders. If Green comes through the Celtics will be competing for Banner 18. Failure by Green will result in failed title hopes for Boston. Celtics fans better hope Green can realize his promise. Remember Go Green Or Go Home!!!!!!!