The Boston Celtics will be shorthanded during the early part of their 2020-21 campaign.
Starting point guard Kemba Walker is slated to miss some time strengthening his knee, and upon his return, will be on a minutes restriction in hopes the injury won’t flare back up.
And in case you forgot, forward Gordon Hayward’s departure to the Charlotte Hornets in free agency also is something that must be compensated for.
It certainly provides a great opportunity to the young members of the Celtics, but opens up a lot of questions about what type of lineups they’ll use as well.
In a media availability with reporters Monday, coach Brad Stevens addressed some of them. But it doesn’t look like his strategy will be to make up for Walker and Hayward’s absences by asking anyone replacing them to change their own style of play.
“I think one of the things you don?t want to do is get away from guys? strengths,? Stevens said, via MassLive’s John Karalis. ?What we have to do, as we are down scorers is, obviously play through our best players, but then the strengths of the others have to complement them. Other guys have some strengths that we can use to help put the ball in the basket as well.”
So what will the actual lineups look like?
Stevens shared that he may use some games with two bigs, perhaps with Grant Williams or even Daniel Theis at the four position occasionally. But the Celtics are more likely to go roll with a smaller lineup as it stands now.
But will Marcus Smart transition to a regular starter from the role he previously thrived in handling the ball on the second unit? Or adapt his game to fill in the offensive void Hayward is leaving behind?
Stevens doesn’t anticipate any noticeable changes.
“I don?t think we?re going to play any differently, with regard to him,? Stevens said regarding Smart. ?I think the biggest thing is you play to the strength of each individual. Marcus has obviously improved his shooting, especially in the catch-and-shoots, off actions he has always been a guy that read the game well so we?ll play him in pick-and-rolls, we?ll post him some against matchup advantages. Nothing too dissimilar from what you?ve seen before.”
Less than three weeks removed from the season, the Celtics roster probably is what it will be for opening night on Dec. 23 against the Milwaukee Bucks.
There is no one player who can be plugged in as a carbon copy of what Walker or Hayward offered, so they’ll just have to do it by committee.