Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics and head coach Brad Stevens have made it a point to shorten up their bench, with their “bigs” seeing a decline in minutes over the last three playoff games.

Boston has been rolling out shorter lineups in stature, while shortening up their bench in their opening round series against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Guys like Aron Baynes and Greg Monroe have taken hits to their minutes, while Semi Ojeleye and Marcus Morris have seen their minutes go up in the NBA Playoffs.

The Bucks aren’t rolling out a huge lineup or anything. Especially with John Henson out of the lineup.

So why aren’t the Celtics taking advantage of their available size in the paint?

There could be a few reasons behind Coach Stevens’ decision.

One is that the Bucks are extremely fast in transition, which is leading to a ton of points in the paint. And the bigs just don’t have ample time to get down the court to set themselves on the defensive end.

Another could be the Celtics are playing matchups as closely as they possibly can.

Three is that the Bucks are fouling the Celtics so much that they don’t want to risk that it’s their “bigs” that are taking these freebies.

And lastly, the C’s “bigs” aren’t all that good.

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Since Monroe arrived in Boston, he’s averaged 19.1 minutes-per-game. But once the playoffs rolled around, he saw his minutes drop to 11.7 minutes-per-game.

And in each game since Game 3, when he played 23:10 minutes, he’s seen his minutes drop drastically. He didn’t even play in Game 5.

The same could be said for Baynes.

Coming into the playoffs, he was averaging 18.3 minutes. But now he’s looking at 17.9 minutes-per-game. That’s not a huge drop off. But He’s seen the same drop in minutes since Game 3 as Monroe has.

But Ojeleye and obviously Morris have seen an increase in minutes.

BOSTON – Marcus Morris of the Celtics reacts during the fourth quarter of Game 1 of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks during at the TD Garden. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

It’s expected that Morris would see an increase in minutes because he’s a solid “six-man,” who can score the basketball and make plays on the defensive end. The C’s need his edginess on court.

Morris has been playing an extra two minutes a night, while Ojeleye is getting an extra minute.

But Ojeleye’s minutes have been going up since Game 3, with him playing a whopping 31:04 minutes in Game 5.

Sure it makes sense on why Stevens has shorten up his bench in the post season.

Most teams tend to play their best/better players more in the playoffs, while keeping their “end of bench” and limited role players’ minutes to a minimum.

They more so play in spots during the game where their starters really need a breather or someone gets cold for a bit, so they need to come off the court to regain their composure.

A guy like Terry Rozier III, who’s playing an extra 10 minutes-per-game, is the one benefitting from these guy’s freed up minutes.

It all makes sense. But why did the Celtics sign Monroe during the season if he’s not going to have a chance to make an impact during the playoffs?

Milwaukee – Celtics center Greg Monroe works for a shot against Milwaukee Bucks center Thon Maker during the first quarter in Game 4 of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Monroe has looked rough at times, but he’s still a solid big, who can protect the rim and snag those much needed rebounds. Plus he’s a beast who sets solid screens that set up guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown with wide-open jumpers.

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But things are looking good for the Celtics as they head into Game 7 of the opening round series in Boston on Saturday night against the Bucks. Particularly because the home team has won each game in our home arena.

Saturday’s Game 7 will be the second Game 7 played at the TD Garden in less than three days after the Boston Bruins knocked off the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night to advance into the next round of the NHL Playoffs.

And it will be head coach Brad Stevens’ second trip to Game 7 after winning last year’s second round Game 7 against the Washington Wizards.

UP NEXT: The Boston Celtics (55-27/3-3) will welcome the Milwaukee Bucks (44-38/3-3) to the TD Garden on Saturday night for Game 7 of the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 7:30 p.m., with tip-off set for 8:00 p.m.

— By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com

John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at jhardiman@985thesportshub.com.

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