Brad Stevens may go with big lineup & shortened rotation again tonight
Starting Aron Baynes in place of Marcus Morris in Game Five seemed to yield a positive difference, resulting in a 96-83 Celtics victory.
Brad Stevens went with a 7-man rotation with both Morris and Marcus Smart coming off the bench. Semi Ojeleye was a DNP-CD. At least on the surface, it appeared that Stevens was looking for defenders that could also produce points, and Semi, despite his lock-down defense, has had trouble scoring the ball.
Baynes was on the court for 29 minutes for the Celtics win in Game Five compared to his 16 minutes in the Game Four loss in Cleveland. It is becoming obvious that Brad relies on Baynes-ey for toughness, defense and communication on the court.
The question now is whether Stevens will go with his 7-man rotation with Baynes starting the game alongside Al Horford. Both Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown had poor shooting nights in Game Five, and they will most likely bounce back tonight.
Marcus Smart shot 55.6% from the field in that game, and a repeat would be welcome. Jayson Tatum had a terrific all-around game while playing 40 minutes.
#Celtics Brad Stevens on Aron Baynes: He is an amazing team defender. He is a tremendous communicator. He is a tremendous talker. He plays to exhaustion. We have a lot of tough guys on this team. But they would all tell you Baynes is one of the tougher ones they've been around.
It is also interesting that Al Horford played seven fewer minutes (34 vs. 41) in the last game compared to Game Four. Baynes seems to be a better matchup against Tristan Thompson than Al, and Horford can certainly use a breather.
Another player that can use a breather is the Cavaliers Lebron James, but I doubt that Brad Stevens will allow that. Six of the seven rotation players (excepting Rozier) have the size and ability to guard Lebron, and all of them will at specific times in the game. The Celtics have been very effective at checking The King while not allowing his running mates to get free. If they can do that again tonight, the Celtics move on to the Finals.