Celtics

Tatum may find himself in Celtics' starting lineup on Opening Night

Tatum may find himself in Celtics' starting lineup on Opening Night

BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum has been the talk of the preseason for the Celtics, a basketball prodigy in the eyes of many whose feel for the game goes well beyond what you would expect from a 19-year-old.
 
That’s why the idea of him being an Opening Night starter, while somewhat far-fetched just a few weeks ago, may indeed become a reality. 
 
Coach Brad Stevens has not announced who his starters will be for the season opener at Cleveland on Tuesday, but all indications are that it’ll include Tatum. 

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And that would make Tatum the first rookie to start for the Celtics since Vitor Faverani in 2013, Stevens’ rookie season with the Celtics.
 
“I don’t want to say (who will start) because then I feel like I’m stuck to it,” Stevens said. “It’ll probably be pretty similar to what we’ve been doing.”
 
Boston’s new Big Three of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford will certainly start. Second-year forward Jaylen Brown has been with the first unit in all four preseason games. 
 
And who has started the most games after that? 
 
Jayson Tatum. 
 
He appeared in all four preseason games (three starts), averaging a team-best 24.3 minutes played while averaging 8.3 points per game. 
 
Even more impressive was his defense, as he showed the ability to contain players with different strengths. 
 
Tatum has also benefited from circumstances that he had no control over, to be in position to be in the starting lineup. 
 
Aron Baynes, who started the first preseason game, suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss one preseason game, but beyond that has been a solid contributor for Boston.  In three preseason games, he averaged 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds. Stevens said Baynes spent some time practicing with the first unit on Sunday, primarily to work on the chemistry of playing with Al Horford. 
 
If Stevens doesn’t start Tatum, Baynes would be the likely choice. 
 
Stevens will also be without Marcus Morris (knee) who will be re-evaluated in 10 days to two weeks. He, too, was a possible option to consider starting. 
 
But to Tatum’s credit, he has made the most of his opportunity to play and, by and large, has done a good job.
 
Still, preseason success is by no means an indicator of how he will fare against Cleveland, the team everyone in the East is chasing.
 
This isn't lost on Tatum who says he has been getting some sage advice from the team’s veteran players. 
 
“Regular season and preseason are like night and day,” Tatum recalls the Celtics’ more seasoned players telling him. “[Regular season is] a totally different ball game.”
 
Especially when Tatum thinks about how at some point on Tuesday night, he’ll be face-to-face against LeBron James. 

“I used to watch LeBron on TV and now playing my first game against him . . . ” said Tatum who acknowledged that he has envisioned himself playing against James before. 
 
How’d that go?
 
“It went good in my head,” Tatum said, grinning.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

BEST OF BST PODCAST: Pelicans snap Celtics 7-game win streak

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BEST OF BST PODCAST: Pelicans snap Celtics 7-game win streak

0:41 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to break down the Celtics loss to the Pelicans in overtime, which snapped Boston's 7-game winning streak, and talks about the dysfunction with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

4:24 - Michael Holley, Tom Curran, Phil Perry, and Tom Giles discuss Gregg Doyel's article where he expressed concern over the expected hiring of Josh McDaniels by the Colts because of his tenure in Denver.

10:13 - Celtics legend Jo Jo White passed away at the age of 71. Michael Holley and Tom Curran talk about the impact he had on the franchise.

13:49 - Phil Perry gives us his report card for each position from the Patriots win over the Titans in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Anthony Davis delivers another monster performance, leading Pelicans past Celtics

Anthony Davis delivers another monster performance, leading Pelicans past Celtics

BOSTON – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Tuesday’s 116-113 overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, which snapped Boston’s seven-game winning streak:

STARS

Anthony Davis: At no point was there a time when you didn’t feel as though this was Anthony Davis’ world and everyone else was just along for the ride. After scoring 48 points at New York on Sunday, Davis had another monster game with 45 points against Boston on 16-for-34 shooting along with 16 rebounds.

STUDS

DeMarcus Cousins: It was Cousins’ first win in Boston after six losses, and his play was huge. He finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans.

Jrue Holiday: It’s easy to forget that Holiday is a former All-star. He played like one on Tuesday, scoring 23 points to go with seven assists with huge baskets in the fourth and in overtime.

Kyrie Irving: After a brutal first half, Irving shook off the rust from the long layoff from London to finish with a team-high 27 points.

Jaylen Brown: He was one of the Celtics more consistent scorers, tallying 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting to go with five assists.

Rajon Rondo: There wasn’t much court time for the former Celtic down the stretch, but Rondo’s impact was undeniable. He played just under 30 minutes and finished with seven points and eight assists with a couple steals and two blocked shots.

DUDS

Celtics turnovers: Boston turned the ball over 19 times which is high but not too outlandish. The bigger problem for Boston was the 32 points those miscues created for New Orleans which was the most by a Boston opponent this season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE