Wednesday, Nov. 21 – Knicks at Celtics

Pregame – C’s Continue to Test New Lineup, More Tweaks Likely to Come

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics tweaked their starting lineup for the first time this season Monday night, replacing Gordon Hayward with Aron Baynes in their matchup against the Charlotte Hornets.

Despite the fact that Boston wound up losing the game by five points, coach Brad Stevens liked what that group had to offer out of the gate. Therefore, he will stick with the same lineup of Baynes at the 5, Al Horford at the 4, Jayson Tatum at the 3, Jaylen Brown at the 2 and Kyrie Irving at the point Wednesday night, when the C’s host the New York Knicks at TD Garden.

Swapping Hayward for Baynes wasn’t an easy move for Stevens to make, but the team’s recent struggles called for a mix-up and taking this particular avenue was what made the most sense.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into those calls,” Stevens said ahead of Wednesday night’s 7:30 p.m. tip-off. “If you looked at our (offensive) rankings right now you would say, ‘Why would you start a defender (Baynes) with the first group?’. But I think it allows guys to play on offense more in their natural positions, and there’s a comfort level to that.

“And as we continue to try to grow and get to the best version of ourselves, we’re going to have to play both ways; we’re going to have to be able to play small and we’re going to have to be able to play big.”

Stevens noted after Monday’s game that the decision was also based on trying to get Hayward with the right groups. He senses a strong chemistry between Hayward and Morris, and also likes having Hayward as a playmaking option for that group.

The coach also lauded Hayward’s willingness to step back into a reserve role, noting that selfless moves like that are what allow teams to be great.

“I know we’ve got a chance, because we’ve got guys in there that are willing to take a back seat,” said Stevens. “Although, it doesn’t change his minutes and rotations much, but that’s a good sign.”

Stevens went on to say that the lineup change may not be permanent, adding that he will continue to make tweaks until his finds all of the right groupings.

– Taylor Snow

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