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Less Minutes, Mo' Problems

As I have been saying on this website, on twitter, and on the street to random strangers I see, the Boston Celtics are loaded. They are so deep and are probably the deepest team in basketball. They can go 10 players deep if they want and while that is a positive it can also be a negative. We all know the NBA is a players league and every player has an ego and thinks they should always play more than they should. This can effect some in a negative manner if a team doesn’t have a strong head coach or strong leadership in the locker room that petty bickering like playing time can submarine a season before it even begins. 

Fortunately for the Celtics they posses both a strong head coach and locker room leaders. They also posses another thing-they're motivated. Last year they lost their two best players and fell short of the NBA Finals having lost Game 7 of the Conference Finals at home. Having Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back and everyone having that common goal for an NBA championship can allow players to put their egos aside and do what is best for the team.

It’ll be interesting to see how The Genius Brad Stevens divides up these minutes. We haven’t really learned much from the pre season because the starters have only been playing around 20 minutes. In their careers, Kyrie has averaged 33.9 minutes per game and Hayward has averaged 31.3. I would expect those minutes to maybe go down some to low 30s or high 20s. They are both coming off of injuries so there is no reason to run those guys into the ground. They have the depth and they might as well use it. Also I expect the Celtics to be blowing teams out so that will effect minutes on Irving, Hayward, and Al Hortford and other veteran players. Since the Golden State Warriors have become the dynasty that they are Stephen Curry’s minutes per game has gone down about four minutes per game in the past four years. I suspect that is because he simply doesn’t play as much because they are blowing out lesser teams.

The problems that could arise for the Celtics is not the veterans complaining that they aren’t playing enough. Older players will always choose extra rest when they can get it. It’ll come from players like Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Smart. Now I don’t think that it will happen, at least not this year, but these are the most likely candidates. Morris has that chip on his shoulder and he walks around like he’s the best player on the court. Morris played a ton last year because of injuries and he hit a lot big shots for the Celtics. How will he feel maybe not being on the court at some of those crucial moments like he was last year? You can tell this year he is embracing his bench role as he has nicknamed the bench B.W.A or Bench With Attitude and has become that leader on the bench. I think he’ll love his role this year but it remains to be seen about it in the future if he stays with the team.

Rozier exploded onto the scene last year and became an internet sensation. The “Scary Terry” thing took off and took over the NBA playoffs and Terry played so well that many people wondered if the Celtics should move on from Kyrie and hand the keys over to Terry full time. Terry is a young, exciting player who is still on his rookie deal and hasn't hit free agency yet. Young players want to play and young players want to get paid. Terry is going to want to play to prove himself so when he hits free agency he can make the most money. I expect Terry to play around 20-22 minutes per night and really look to score. Terry Rozier will definitely lead the bench in scoring for the Celtics and potentially be 6th man of the year.

Marcus Smart is another player that walks around like he owns the court and its what I love about him. You have to live with the bad 3s he takes and all the other stuff because he plays his ass off and does so many little things that don’t show up in the box score. He will get that tough rebound, draw that charge, and guard the opposing teams best player when he’s on the court. He’s nicknamed “The Cobra” for a reason. But he also signed a big contract this off season so he is another guy that is going to look to prove himself. I think in the big moments, in crunch time, Marcus Smart will be on the court more times than not.

Brad Stevens can only play five players at a time and he’s got 240 minutes per game to figure out between his players. Good players lead to big expectations and like I said I think the players are motivated to do whats best for the team and not what is best for themselves. I think Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will lead the team in minutes played. Young players that are still getting better so they will ideally play the most. Irving and Hayward will play and get rest when needed. I think he play guys based on certain matchups vs opposing teams and he will find the right lineup at anytime to win. If there is one coach who can figure out all these minutes, its Brad Stevens. It's his biggest test yet.

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