Brad Stevens has said on more than one occasion the Boston Celtics’ starting lineup may fluctuate based upon who they play which is indeed the case against the Miami Heat tonight.
Stevens said 6-foot-11 center Aron Baynes will replace Marcus Morris in the starting lineup tonight to help battle Miami 7-footer Hassan Whiteside. He will join a unit that includes Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford.
Boston defeated Miami earlier this season 96-90, but Whiteside did not play due to injury.
“We’ve mixed and matched all year with our starters,” Stevens told reporters.
Regardless of who the Celtics were playing tonight, there was a good chance that Baynes would be in the starting lineup for Morris who is having some more soreness in his left knee which sidelined him for the first eight games of the season.
Morris, who has started the last four games and seven of the last eight, is questionable to play tonight.
“We’ve been trying to manage his minutes the best that we can,” Stevens said. “But for whatever reason, he had a little bit (of soreness) in Dallas. He feels a lot better, two days later. But we want to make sure.”
BOSTON – The days of playing short-handed continue for the Boston Celtics who will be without at least one all-star when they host the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.
The Celtics announced on Tuesday that Al Horford (rest) will not play. A knee collision with Detroit’s Anthony Tolliver on Sunday made Horford a game-time decision prior to Boston’s 108-85 loss at Chicago on Monday. Horford played but like most of his teammates, didn’t play as well as he would have liked before finishing with 15 points, four rebounds and five assists which included him missing all four of his 3-point attempts.
Kyrie Irving is probable with a quad injury that kept him out of the Bulls loss.
Marcus Morris (left knee) will miss his third straight game (14th this season) and remains out indefinitely. Also, Gordon Hayward (left ankle fracture) remains out although he may get some good news tomorrow.
BOSTON -- The timetable for Gordon Hayward’s return to the court hasn’t changed as far as the Celtics are concerned.
But try telling that to Hayward, who may be out of his walking boot for good very soon -- like tomorrow soon.
C's coach Brad Stevens gave an update on Hayward’s status in an interview with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski for Krzyzewski’s SiriusXM show, “Basketball & Beyond with Coach K,” which will air Thursday at 6 p.m. ET (SiriusXM channel 84).
“He’s going to the doctor [Wednesday] to potentially get out of his walking boot for good, which he’s jacked about,” Stevens said.
Stevens and Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, have reiterated how aggressive Hayward has been in attacking his rehab since suffering a dislocated left ankle injury in the season opener at Cleveland on October 17.
“He is literally in the weight room as we speak,” Stevens said. “Does all the training table [work], just like our guys. Has his own shooting time even when he was in a boot, sitting in a chair. He had his own shooting time and had his own lifting time, just like all our players do before practice.”
From the very outset, Stevens and the Celtics have made keeping Hayward as involved as possible a priority.
But Stevens is quick to caution that while Hayward is making good progress, the Celtics are still proceeding forward as though they will not have him back until next season.
“His status is, the way that we’ve looked at it the whole time is, we don’t expect him back this year,” Stevens said. “But he shoots for all of his goals, week to week, day to day, to try to expedite it as much as he can. He obviously wants to be back, like any athlete, as soon as he can.”
Hayward signed a four-year, $127.8 million contract with the Celtics this summer after spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Utah Jazz. Boston was awarded an $8.4 million disabled player exception for Hayward's injury, the largest DPE ever. Boston was awarded the exception in part because independent doctors determined that it’s “likely” that Hayward will not be able to return prior to June 15.
However, Boston will still keep the DPE until it expires (March 10, 2018) even if Hayward returns sooner than expected.