In a recent article, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston wrote about four storylines to watch in anticipation of the Celtics next game against the Knicks tomorrow night: offensive improvement while Kyrie Irving is on the bench, reintegrating Jaylen Brown, the long-term starters and minutes to go around when everybody is healthy.

The Celtics own a team-best offensive rating of 109.6 when Irving is on the court this season, a figure that would place Boston in the NBA’s top 10. But when Irving sits, that number drops to 95, which would rank far below the Hawks’ league-worst rating of 100.5.

Brown has missed the last three games after suffering a back bruise against the Mavericks a couple weeks back. He could start tomorrow night, but the team has won three games in a row with Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris starting. Head coach Brad Stevens may elect to keep that group intact.

Stevens’ challenge in selecting who to start is figuring out how to balance the lineup with the most talent, and thus the most potential, with the lineup that is giving the team the most success right now. Eventually, Boston might work its way back to the Irving-Brown-Jayson TatumGordon HaywardAl Horford lineup, but keeping Smart and Morris on the bench is a risk.

In the Celtics’ last four wins, they’ve been shorthanded, which some may argue shows that some players play better with more minutes. Terry Rozier has already voiced his displeasure with playing time this season, and as mentioned above, Stevens will need to balance playing time between Smart, Morris, Hayward and Brown as the season plays out.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald writes that Hayward’s struggle to reintegrate himself after last season’s horrific injury is also a result of how much the Celtics have changed since he arrived in the summer of 2017.
  • In another piece for NBC Sports Boston, Forsberg relays that Brown is open to coming of the bench in his return from injury. Brown downplayed the significance of becoming a reserve and said he will embrace any role Stevens has in mind for him.
  • As we relayed yesterday, the value of some of the Celtics’ trade assets has depreciated a little this season, with the Kings, Clippers and Grizzlies outperforming expectations and Brown not as impressive as many anticipated.

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Yardbarker: Boston Celtics

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