- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics reinserted forward Brandon Bass into the starting lineup for Friday's visit from the Indiana Pacers, returning to a grouping that sparked the team's second-half turnaround last season.
After guard Avery Bradley made his season debut on Wednesday against Memphis, the Celtics moved Bass back into the starting lineup alongside their Big Three (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo), bumping veteran big man Jason Collins to the bench and moving Garnett back to center.
"We want to stay as big as possible, what we didn’t like with Jason in the [starting] lineup was -- now we’re going to play him every night -- and when he and Kevin were off the floor, we got small quickly. This way we can keep a big on the floor at all times. ...
"We could have done it the other night, but that was Avery’s first night. That is the group that helped us. But having Jason [play every night] will help Kevin, because he still won't have to play 5 the entire time. I just think the season’s too long now for Kevin to do that."
The Celtics are also hoping the move will give Bass a spark after he's struggled at both ends of the floor this season.
"That’s what we’re hoping. You don’t do it just for the group, you do it for the individual at times," said Rivers. "Brandon’s played better when he’s playing with Kevin, though everyone has for that matter. I think clearly Brandon has. And that’s one of the reasons we are doing it."
A few other quick notes from pregame access:
* FAB STILL IN BOSTON; JOSEPH TO MAINE: Before Friday's game, the Celtics reassigned rookie forward Kris Joseph to the Maine Red Claws. With Bradley back to bolster depth, Joseph can get extended game reps in the D-League. Rookie center Fab Melo remains with Boston, but said he won't meet with team doctors until next week to have his concussion re-evaluated. Asked how he's feeling, Melo noted: "Just when I'm outside in the light, I start getting a headache. But it's nothing major." He'll remain in Boston until he's been re-evaluated and then should be sent back to Maine to resume his D-League development.
* PACERS' DAUNTING DEFENSE: Indiana owns the No. 1 defense in the league, which Rivers joked means the Celtics' struggling offense will probably have a big night. "We should score 130 tonight with the way things are going, you just never know," quipped Rivers. "The one thing is we have to get stops, and I keep saying that, it’s a broken record, but for us to get in transition and for Rondo to be great, the only way that can happen is for us to get multiple stops and him in transition. IF they are scoring on us, and we are walking the ball up the floor against that length, it’s going to be a tough night, offensively, and we are going to have to be great defensively."
5dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
6dESPN Stats and Information Group