MIAMI — The days of bigger being better, of rounding up the O’Neal-sized (Jermaine, Shaquille) suspects are apparently over. NBA lineups are being downsized, and the Celtics are going sleek this season.
The Celtics have five players standing at, or near, 7 feet tall, and their best rebounder is Jared Sullinger, a 6-foot-9-inch rookie. But most of the minutes will be meted out to mobile ballhandlers who can cause matchup problems for the opposition.
The Celtics reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season and they could have called it the end of an era. But they decided to re-sign Kevin Garnett and retooled the offense and will try to make a run for an 18th title.
And run they will.
In the past, coach Doc Rivers was reluctant to get into a “track meet” with the Miami Heat and other athletically gifted teams. Not now. Anyone want to get into a shootout with Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry? Try catching Avery Bradley (due to return from shoulder surgeries in December) and Rajon Rondo in transition. Want your big men chasing Garnett or Chris Wilcox in a 94-foot sprint?
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