On Monday night, just moments before the Boston Celtics matchup with the Charlotte Hornets, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens decided to make a game-changing decision before tipoff. After spending the entire Monday afternoon telling reporters that he wasn’t going to make a change to the starting lineup, he decided to send veteran forward Gordon Hayward to the bench.
As shocking as the move was in the moment, it wasn’t all that surprising. Many have pondered about the Celtics removing Hayward from the starting lineup, and even Hayward himself wasn’t opposed to the idea. After all, he isn’t exactly having his best season so far with Boston. Hayward has averaged nine points-per-game, 3.1 APG, and 5.4 RPG. Although this is practically Hayward’s first season with the Celtics, it’s clear that he hasn’t entirely built up chemistry within the starting lineup. The move to the bench not only benefits the team but helps himself as well.
Don’t get it twisted though, benching Gordon Hayward isn’t what it sounds like. Hayward may not be on the court for the first few series’ of the game, but he will still continue to find plenty of minutes on a nightly basis. Currently, Hayward is averaging 27 minutes-per-game. And on Monday, he totaled for 31 minutes on the court, despite being taken out of the lineup. There were some good moments, and some rough ones, but ultimatley, the move didn’t exactly work yet, as the Celtics took a tough loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
Stevens Isn’t Finished with Changes?
The Celtics new plan wasn’t a recipe for victory. Therefore, they will continue to make changes. After Monday nights game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens made it clear that they are not done making changes to the lineups. While Stevens noted that Hayward’s benching had more to do with helping him maximize potential, rather than being punished – he still hasn’t figured out exactly what works best for Hayward.
“Gordon and (Marcus) Morris have had a great chemistry,” Stevens said. “And I think, I know we’ve got a chance because we’ve got guys in there that are willing to take a back seat, if you will. Although it doesn’t change his minutes or rotations as much, but that’s a good sign. I think that we’re probably not done tweaking the lineups.”
The Celtics 9-8 start to the 2018-2019 season has been less than ideal. After all, they are a team that just went to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. You would think that now that they have all of their superstars back on board, they would be dominating the NBA right now. Unfortunatley, that’s not the case. The Celtics have an identity problem, and it looks like taking Hayward out of the starting lineup is just the first move of a few.