Celtics starting lineup announced, ‘regular minutes’ to close out preseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla has announced his starting five prior to their preseason game against the New York Knicks. The Celtics will roll out the small ball lineup of Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kristaps Porzingis.
The notable omission to the starting five is 37-year-old Al Horford, who averaged 9.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists last year in his 16th year in the NBA. Mazzulla’s explanation for his starting lineup decision may be a hint to what we may see moving forward.
“We are ramping it up a little bit,” Mazzulla said, “get them closer to their regular season minutes.”
Mazzulla’s explanation can lead Celtics fans to believe that this small ball lineup could be the preferred lineup going into the regular season.
“[We want to] try and get a little continuity over the next two games,” Mazzulla added. He also confirmed that the Celtics will be playing regular minutes for the next two preseason games.
One thing to note is that Mazzulla has never used just one primary lineup. Last season, the Celtics used a combination of 26 different lineups. The most played lineup, 30 games, was a small ball lineup of Marcus Smart, White, Brown, Tatum, and Horford.
Seemingly sticking with the small ball strategy, which won 20 of the 30 games last season, Porzingis will replace Horford as the sole big with Holiday replacing Smart as the other guard.
Mazzulla has historically changed the lineup to adjust when playing against a bigger team. Last year, we saw Robert Williams and Grant Williams crack the starting lineup to better match up with the opposition. With both of them now gone, the Celtics will most likely look to Horford, with Luke Kornet also an option. Center Neemias Queta could also be looked to for help after having a great preseason campaign so far. Currently on a two-way deal, Queta could be eligible to play in up to 50 games for Boston.
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