Celtics

Jayson Tatum replaces Aron Baynes in Celtics starting lineup vs. Sixers

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Jayson Tatum replaces Aron Baynes in Celtics starting lineup vs. Sixers

Brad Stevens is in full-blown lineup tinkering mode, going with a different starting lineup for the second time in as many days.

Tonight’s game against Philadelphia will include a Celtics starting five that consists of their Big Three – Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford – along with Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum.

Tatum replaces Aron Baynes with the first group, although his insertion into the lineup shifts Al Horford to center.

“We just want to continue to look at different ways, and different groups playing together,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s tip-off. “As I told them, it’s unlikely that would be something we’d set in stone by any means. But we want to continue to look at different groups and different guys together.”

Tatum, drafted by Boston with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, has been among the more talked-about Celtics in training camp thus far.

In an interview with NBC Sports Boston earlier this week, Tatum said adjusting to all the changes that come with being an NBA player has been challenging at times.

“Everything happens so much quicker,” Tatum told NBC Sports Boston. “We only practiced three, four days and then we had a preseason game. So, you have to learn everything on the fly, and you play so many different teams, it’s a lot you have to learn.”

While Tatum has drawn rave reviews from many for his scoring ability, it has been his effort defensively thus far in training camp that has caught the eye of Stevens.

“He’s totally committed to being as good a defender as he can be,” Stevens said. “When you put guys out there with Kyrie, Gordon and Al, we need guys that make the team around them better. And with that, we also have to be mindful of groups that are playing off the bench together. We want to try and be the best we can be at both ends, and I’m encouraged by Jayson’s start defensively thus far.”

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Brown sees 'big difference' trading in goggles for contacts

Brown sees 'big difference' trading in goggles for contacts

BOSTON – Jaylen Brown’s recent eye issues led to him wearing goggles, then changing to a different pair, tossing those when they fogged up, only to come back to wearing contacts for Wednesday’s game against Denver.

“It was a big difference,” Brown said of not having to wear the goggles.

It certainly looked that way in his play, with Brown being among the many players on Wednesday to be in a really good rhythm shooting the ball.

And the timing could not have been any better as Boston outlasted the Denver Nuggets 124-118.

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Brown had 26 points – one shy of tying his career high – on 9-for-12 shooting.

As a team, Boston shot a season-high 59.5 percent from the field.

Ball movement, the sense of urgency to bounce back after a bad loss, trying to fill the void left by not having Al Horford (rest) around … there’s a number of reasons to help explain his impressive shooting night.

But none looms any larger than the fact that he was playing free of any limited vision issues that came up when he played with goggles.

“You take a lot of stuff for granted, and that’s one of them,” said Brown who did wear contacts during the game. “And when your vision is messed up and you try to play through it … I just appreciated being able to see.”

Brown explained the problems he experienced wearing the goggles.

“They were too much in my face,” he said. “I couldn’t see peripheral, and the other ones were just too tight, they kept fogging up. It was just uncomfortable with them, so I thought I was just better off without them. Tonight, I was blessed enough to be able to play with my contacts.”

And now that his vision is no longer an issue, Celtics head coach acknowledged how they can now joke around about the whole situation which began with Brown leaving his contacts in for too long which led to his right eye not being able to open and overall irritation that kept him sidelined for the Dallas game last week.

“We had some laughs in retro-spec,” quipped Stevens. “That’s pretty good; said retro-spec. Been thinking about that all week.”

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Stars, studs and duds: Tatum 'real excited to bounce back'

Stars, studs and duds: Tatum 'real excited to bounce back'

BOSTON – To see Jayson Tatum struggle with his shot the way he did at Chicago was surprising. He’s a 19-year-old rookie, but he has played with a level of consistency and poise that’s just not normal for a player so young.

But the true indicator wasn’t how he struggled, but how would he respond.

Tatum had the kind of bounce-back game the Boston Celtics needed on Wednesday as they held off a hot-shooting Denver Nuggets team 124-118.

Tatum, who had four points on 1-for-7 shooting in Boston’s 108-85 loss at Chicago on Monday, had 15 points against the Nuggets while connecting on six of his nine shot attempts.

“I was just real excited to bounce back,” Tatum told NBC Sports Boston. “I was upset the way I played, the way we played. I was eager to get back and get a win.”

Tatum played just under 28 minutes which is a couple minutes below his average, in part because Boston decided to go small and the Nuggets played long stretches with 6-foot-8 Wilson Chandler at small forward and 6-10 Trey Lyles at power forward.

“When you move Chandler to the 3 (small forward) and Lyles to the 4 (power forward), all of a sudden going small doesn’t feel like the best idea in the world,” Stevens said. “Those are tough matchups, so that’s why his minutes were a little down.”

But the change in Tatum’s minutes allowed him to play more with the second unit which was indeed a plus for the Celtics.

“He came in and gave us a good lift and did most of his damage with the second unit,” Stevens said.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 124-118 win over the Denver Nuggets.

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving

He returned after missing the Chicago game to rest his sore left quad, and boy did the Celtics need him. The Nuggets made this a much higher-scoring affair than Boston is accustomed to playing, but they were able to more than hold their own and Irving’s play was a big reason why. He led the Celtics with 33 points on 12-for-19 shooting along with seven assists and a pair of blocked shots.

Gary Harris

Denver is a long way from Boston, so folks on this side of the basketball world aren’t familiar with just how good Gary Harris is on the floor.  He was a near-unstoppable force Wednesday night, knocking down 3-pointers along with getting to the rim off the dribble with dunks, lay-ups and a few pull-up jumpers. He led all scorers with 36 points on 16-for-25 shooting.

 

STUDS

Aron Baynes

No Al Horford (rest) meant someone in the frontcourt would be getting a few more shots tonight, and Baynes was up to the challenge. He finished with 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting to go with six rebounds. Boston is now 6-1 when the 6-foot-10 center scores in double figures. 

Jaylen Brown

Like most of his teammates, Brown was eager to bounce back from a not-so-great performance at Chicago. He did just that, tallying 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting.

Jamal Murray

The other half of Denver’s starting backcourt, Murray is a spot-on shooter whose playmaking skills are improving with time. He had a double-double of 28 points on 9-for-17 shooting along with 10 rebounds while dishing out four assists and getting his hands on three steals.

Shane Larkin

His ability to shake things up and provide a spark was on full display against the Nuggets. Larkin was a perfect 6-for-6 shooting and finished with 14 points in just under 18 minutes of court time.

 

DUDS

Celtics rebounding

It seemed no matter how many white-and-green clad jerseys were around the ball, it always seemed to find its way into the hands of a Denver Nuggets player. By the time the final horn had sounded, the Celtics were a -18 on the boards with Denver finishing with 48 total rebounds – just 3 short of the season-high 51 Boston gave up against Orlando on Nov. 24.

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