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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BEST OF BST PODCAST: C's back from All-Star break, how will Stevens change rotations?

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BEST OF BST PODCAST: C's back from All-Star break, how will Stevens change rotations?

(1:00) A. Sherrod Blakely joins Boston Sports Tonight to discuss Brad Stevens hinting that he will change the Celtics rotations after All-Star break, and what changes he thinks Brad will make. (4:30) How will Marcus Smart’s return impact Terry Rozier?

(5:40) Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni discuss why the J.D. Martinez announcement was delayed another day as doctors review his physical, and whether Red Sox fans should be concerned.

(11:50) DJ Bean reacts to the Bruins trading Frank Vatrano to the Panthers and Anders Bjork being out for the season following shoulder surgery.

(14:40) Mike Flynn joins Kayce Smith and Tom E. Curran to discuss Sports News article that says that the Denver Broncos could possibly release Aqib Talib. We debate what it would take to get Talib back to New England and how well he would fit in with the Patriots defense. 

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Celtics set to play with greater sense of urgency in return to action

Celtics set to play with greater sense of urgency in return to action

WALTHAM, Mass. – The road to getting back atop the Eastern Conference standings for the Boston Celtics following the All-Star break will begin – where else? – on the road.

And that’s a good thing.

Boston, which plays its first two games after the break on the road beginning at Detroit tonight and New York on Saturday, has been among the league’s best all season when it comes to winning on the road.

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Only two teams, Golden State (22-7, .759 winning percentage) and Houston (21-7, .750 winning percentage), have a better road winning percentage than the Celtics (19-8, .703 winning percentage) this season.

“Our schedule is really hard as we hit this last home stretch 23 games,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “And that’s a good thing with us. We are going to have to have that urgency.”

Boston (40-19) has lost three straight and four of its last five games.

Aware of how quickly a couple of losses can snowball into a full-blown losing skid, Boston players understand the importance of playing with a greater sense of urgency.

“I think we have a sense of urgency about ourselves,” Brown said. “I think we understand the second half of the season and the importance of it, getting ready for playoffs. And how you can see some of the older guys, Kyrie (Irving), Al (Horford), the attention to detail, the stress about the little things is becoming more evident.” 

Said Irving: “We hit a little bit of a stretch where we haven’t been playing our type of basketball. Not necessarily being as consistent as we’d like to be. We just want to get back to being consistent and doing the right things.”

Stevens added, “Hopefully these little hiccups that we have had prior to the break, which more pertains to who we are playing … hopefully benefit us down the road.”

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Al Horford said more than anything, the Celtics have to ratchet up their attention to details in all phases of play.

“The focus is really now more than any point in the season taking it day-to-day,” Horford said. “And I felt like we got better, today was a good practice. This is a good start, so now for us it’s just to keep building that and just take it game-to-game because these are … the rehearsal games, if you want to call them that. That’s what I like to call it with this group. So, getting everything straightened out for when the playoffs come around.”

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