Last season down the stretch, Boston went small more and more often, using Jae Crowder as a four. Small ball works (see the NBA champs) and the league is trending that way.
But Brad Stevens may have his Celtics working against the grain this season. Or at least he’s going to explore it.
With the additions of Amir Johnson and David Lee to go with Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk, Stevens has options. He told Jay King of MassLive.com that he’s going to experiment a little.
This is the smart move to make — you have to adjust your system to the players, not go Mike D’Antoni and try to jam square pegs into round holes. (He eventually adjusted some with the Lakers, but not until it was too late.)
Plus, going against the grain can often be successful.
Small ball works — if you have the right players to execute it. Golden State went small but thanks to Draymond Green their defense didn’t suffer. Miami’s defense was quite good with Bosh as a center when they were winning. But those two teams have elite talent, and teams that do it and don’t have the talent can be exposed.
Meanwhile, guys like Lee, Jared Sullinger, Zeller, Olynyk, and crew could feast on small lineups. Stevens is smart enough to figure out what works best.