Stevens to restrict Hayward's minutes

Ladies and gentlemen, the day has finally arrived.

No more hangover from what could've been in the playoffs.

No more summer.

No more almost pre-season.

No more (thankfully) pre-season. In four short hours, the Boston Celtics will begin their 2018-2019 campaign at home against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Celtics, as we've discussed here before, didn't exactly have a good pre-season, to put it lightly. However, given that every good guy in green-and-white is as competitive as they come, I believe each player will bring their A-game tonight on what is poised to be a playoff atmosphere.

The 76ers come in to this game hungry. After the Celtics (sans Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, and a key bench guy Daniel Theis) dropped the 76ers in five games, ending an otherwise stellar season, it's safe to say they'll be out for blood.

The Celtics will have the services of their whole squad tonight, including Gordon Hayward; however, word from Boston is Brad Stevens will be limiting his minutes to around 25 for the start of the season.
No need to sound any alarms, I'm sure we all expected a little caution to start the season, especially given the natural rust he showed over the course of pre-season. More importantly, Brad and Company know the Celtics are in this for the long haul. And a long haul it is, given the quest is to finish first in their conference after 82 grueling games. Followed up by the goal of winning another 16 games in order to raise Banner 18.

Given the nature of Hayward's injury, and the time and effort it took to recover from it, Gordon is painfully familiar with the notion of taking it easy, step by step, day by day.

Limiting Hayward's minutes will not only help him get back into his groove, but will also allow Stevens to play with more lineups, to see how Gordon responds to not just regular season game speed, but playoff-like game speed.

Restricted minutes or not, this is an exciting time for the Boston Celtics and their faithful fans. 

Gordon Hayward is back and is ready for action, albeit limited minutes.

Kyrie Irving is back and, as he's said, is feeling better than ever.

Jaylen Brown comes off a prodigious second year.

Jayson Tatum comes off one hell of a rookie run, including being the go-to guy during the playoffs, averaging 18.5ppg.

Al Horford is the calm, cool, collected influence he always has been and is rearing to go.

The BWA (Bench With Attitude) boys, Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier are always ready to fire.

Semi Ojeleye just finished another 8,000 curls, so his bicepes and (hopefully) his three-point shooting are ready to go.

Brad Stevens just completed (probably) his 48th time of watching Sixers game film, so he's ready to roll as well.

After such an unforgettable-for-all-the-wrong-reasons pre-season though, a few questions come to mind:

How will this team play after a disheartening pre-season? Will Gordon Hayward look like the Utah Jazz Gordon Hayward early on? Will the Celtics play with that underdog edge?

We'll find out soon enough. Game time is 8PM EST on TNT. Which means Charles Barkley, Shaq, and the crew will be giving their two cents come halftime.

I just hope, if Charles gives his iconic "trrrrble" commentary, that it's not towards the Celtics.

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Photo Credit: NESN; Boston Sports Extra