The Boston Celtics are still in “discovery mode” with their optimal lineup and combinations, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told Zolak and Bertrand during his weekly appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Wednesday.
But that discovery mode will see Stevens stick with a starting five that sees Gordon Hayward’s night begin on the bench for the second straight game, with Aron Baynes staying in Boston’s starting five for tonight’s meeting against the New York Knicks.
Brad Stevens tells us the Celtics are using same starting lineup again tonight with Gordon Hayward coming off the bench vs Knicks— Zolak & Bertrand (@ZoandBertrand) November 21, 2018
It’s obviously worth mentioning that Hayward’s status as a ‘bench player’ didn’t much to limit his play in Monday’s loss in Charlotte, with Hayward finishing the night with 30 minutes (third-most on the team), but it did allow Stevens to tinker with some intriguing combinations, including a potentially effective Hayward-Marcus Morris combination.
“The one thing about it is it allows [Hayward] to play with Morris more, and they’ve had a great chemistry as they’ve played their minutes together,” Stevens acknowledged. “Sometimes small changes and small tweaks can impact everybody in a positive manner.”
Lauding the ‘leadership element’ of it all, citing Hayward’s willingness to come off the bench if it means the C’s have a greater chance of winning games, Stevens also appeared satisfied with the strides the Celtics made as a team, even in a losing effort.
“I just thought we started to look like ourselves for more minutes in a game than I had seen,” Stevens said of Monday’s loss in Charlotte. “I thought we did so many good things throughout the game on both ends of the court that I left [the game] really encouraged. There are thing we can clean up, but they’re all technical. It was all small technical things we can improve upon, and that left me encouraged.”
As for the lineup, Stevens appears willing to experiment until he finds something that gets the team on track.
“We’re gonna keep on being flexible,” Stevens said.