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The Celtics ended the 2017-18 season one win shy of the NBA Finals with a starting lineup of Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Aron Baynes. With All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returning for the new year, it's clear that some tweaks will be done to the starting five.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens discussed expected roles and starting lineups for the upcoming season with Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports during an episode of Mannix’s podcast that aired Tuesday. With most of the roster returning from last year (which is the opposite from a year ago when Boston only brought back four players), Stevens already trusts that a large part of his roster can have an impact, and is excited about the depth of the team:

"[The Celtics have] eight, nine, maybe 10 guys that are starters"

If Stevens evaluation of talent is true, then you'd have to think it would be at least a little challenging to manage roles and keep everyone happy. If you have around 10 guys who are capable of being starters and half of them have to come off the bench - often with a minimized role - it must put some pressure on the head coach to manage minutes properly. Well, Stevens doesn't seem to be concerned about this. He is confident that his players understand the bigger picture and realize their worth, even when coming off the bench:

“I do think our guys have a recognition overall that [starting is] not what it’s about. It’s about trying to be the best that we can be collectively. If we all do what we do to the best of our ability, it’ll benefit everybody individually. You only get so many chances to be a part of a special group. We’re pretty fortunate to be in this position, so we need to take advantage of it.”

Under Stevens, Boston doesn't have "starters" and "bench players" thanks to the unified and collective culture that the coach has developed. Plus, the Celtics often change lineups these days, so "non-starters" are occasionally inserted in the starting five anyway:

“Marcus Smart has come off the bench for two years, and I’ve never considered Marcus Smart to be a non-starter. We’re going to have different lineups out there, and everybody is going to get a different opportunity and lots of opportunities to make an impact.”

Again, Stevens does a great job at getting everyone to buy into the system and aim for the same goal, regardless of what their role says on paper. Something that goes hand-in-hand with this is the mentality to improve everyday, one day at a time, as a collective unit - and that's exactly what Prez Stevens has his team focused on:

“I’ve been on teams that have been at the top level the year before and then really tailed off at the start of the next season. The challenge is coming back and saying, ‘We’re committed to doing all of these little details again.’ There will be no steps that will be skipped. We’re not trying to be playing in April on September 26, we’re trying to be better on September 27.”



Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32

Photo via David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Erik Johnson 8/08/2018 09:14:00 AM Edit
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