Bean: Come up with whatever lineup you want; the Celtics are still going to be stacked

Bean: Come up with whatever lineup you want; the Celtics are still going to be stacked

Brad Stevens was on this week's episode of Chris Mannix's podcast and acknowledged that the Celtics are super deep; as he put it, they've got “eight, nine, maybe 10 guys that are starters.”

While Boston's five best players is a rather obvious group, eight/nine/10 is more than five and sports observers really like exploring stuff that doesn't necessarily need to be explored.

Which brings us to today, when Celtics Blog tweeted out a post titled, "Should Al Horford come off the bench this year?"

After I recovered from my what-the-hell-could-possibly-lead-you-to-ask-such-a-dumb-question attack, I read the post. It wasn't bad, and as is often the case, the piece (written by Alex Kungu) was deeper than its headline suggested. 

Kungu wasn't necessarily advocating for Horford to be a bench player. He was taking a lot of factors into consideration -- Horford preferring to not play the five, the size of other centers, the desire to keep a star player fresh, etc. -- and weighing whether they could sway Stevens to go away from the team's obvious starting five. 

It's a fair question to ask, even if the answer is obvious. It's also the type of question that could be run into the ground as we get bored with how stacked the Celtics are. Stevens will pretty much be able to do whatever he wants with this group, so it's fun enough to keep ourselves busy by conjuring up off-the-wall ideas as to what that may be. 

Here's what it should be: A starting five of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford. Take out one of the forwards and slide Aron Baynes in against bigger teams. Easy peasy. No overthinking needed. We want to, though. 

There are factions that want to see either Tatum or Hayward come off the bench. You can see where they're coming from because either one of those guys leading a second unit is hilarious. It would speak to the embarrassment of riches that the Celtics have; a group far deeper and far better than any other in the East. 

Is that necessary? No. The Celtics can still beat the hell out of teams with a loaded starting group and secondary contributions from Terry Rozier and the Marcuses. 
Boston's starting five probably won't be the same every night, but when they need to go balls to the wall, you can imagine which five will be out there. It will be the all-world point guard (Kyrie), the emerging star third-year shooting guard (Brown), one of the best young small forwards in the game (Tatum), an All-Star forward (Hayward) and a five-time All-Star (Horford). 
“It’s about trying to be the best that we can be collectively. If we all do what we do to the best of our ability, it’ll benefit everybody individually," Stevens said on Mannix's podcast. "You only get so many chances to be a part of a special group. We’re pretty fortunate to be in this position, so we need to take advantage of it.”

Stevens will. Before he does, we'll probably talk ourselves in circles.


Bryce Brown hits franchise 3's record in Red Claws loss

USA TODAY Sports Images

Bryce Brown hits franchise 3's record in Red Claws loss

The Maine Red Claws were in action at home at the Portland Expo Center on Saturday night hosting the Delaware Blue Coats, taking a 128-123 loss to fall to 7-4 and fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Tacko Fall wasn’t in action, but Bryce Brown was simply furious, leading all scorers with 43 points 15 of 17 from the floor overall and a franchise single-game record 11 of 11 three-pointers. Tremont Waters was terrific, too, with 18 points and 11 assists.



Brown, an undrafted free agent who helped lead Auburn to its first Final Four appearance last spring, was simply unconscious for the Claws. He shot a perfect 11 of 11 from three-point range to give him an absurd effective field goal percentage of 1.2 for the game.


Waters, the Connecticut native, was crafty in his distribution, with just four turnovers to go with his 11 assists.

Yante Maten (18 points), Vincent Poirier (18) and Justin Bibbs (10) also scored in double-figures for the Red Claws.


The Red Claws return to action Friday in Des Moines, Iowa to face the Iowa Wolves, with tipoff at 8 p.m. ET.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Happy birthday, Larry Bird!

Happy birthday, Larry Bird!

Anytime is a good time to watch highlights of the greatness that was Larry Bird playing for the Celtics.

But on Larry Legend's 63rd birthday? It's time to break out the best of No. 33...

The fight with Dr. J in 1984:

The 60-point game against the Hawks in '85:

The steal against Isiah Thomas and the Pistons in '87:

The "you are watching was greatness is all about" duel with Dominique Wilkins in '88:


Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.