Coming into tonight’s matchup against the Golden State Warriors, the Boston Celtics are surprisingly fully healthy. The team has battled a plethora of injuries since the start of the 2017-2018 season and were most recently down big man Aron Baynes with a foot injury. With Baynes returning to the lineup against the Rockets on Sunday, the Celtics finally have a fully clean bill of health.
Despite their good health, the Celtics have struggled to work players back from injury and the current rotation limits everyone outside of Kyrie and Horford’s minutes. Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown are talented players who need a lot of minutes, further clogging the Celtics rotations. Rozier specifically is a player who needs heavy minutes to get comfortable and perform his best. He excelled in the starting role when Irving went down last season but has struggled off the bench against second units now that his minutes are less consistent.
Celtics Roster & Lineup vs. Warriors
Although Gordon Hayward was expected to be playing a bit better by this time in the year, Marcus Morris has filled in admirably at the forward role and is having himself a career year. However, the Celtics need Hayward to continue improving after his injury and regain a bit more of what once made him worthy of a max contract.
Marcus Smart has been steadily drawing starts at the other guard spot alongside Irving while Jaylen Brown is used primarily off the bench. Given that Kyrie isn’t the strongest defender, Brad Stevens has gotten increasingly comfortable over the year running the combo guard Smart out alongside Irving and simply sicking him on the tougher player to cover.
Celtics vs. Warriors Prediction; Latest on Kyrie Irving’s Frustration
Kyrie Irving has been rightfully frustrated with the Celtics recent performances and has become increasingly hostile with the media. Kyrie is becoming increasingly upset over questions involving his free agency and the team’s performance. Things have seemingly peaked following a heartbreaking loss to the Rockets before heading out on this West Coast road trip.
Kyrie drama aside, now that they are fully healthy, the Celtics do match up well with the Warriors on paper. Especially when you consider that the Warriors are down one of the best three-point shooters in the history of the game (Klay Thompson), the Celtics seemingly have a path to victory.
A defensive-minded bunch, the Celtics will likely be able to hide Kyrie on Klay Thompson’s empty spot while having Smart harass Curry up and down the floor. While Kevin Durant is arguably the leagues best player right now, the Celtics run out a strong wing duo of Tatum and Hayward that will ensure the rest of the Warriors will have to be locked in with Durant resting. Horford is also an incredibly smart big man and uses his basketball IQ to keep even the most physically imposing big men in check.
Despite all the advantages on paper, if the Celtics want to have a shot the bench as a whole needs to show up. Strong efforts from Rozier, Brown, and Hayward are essential in beating the Warriors. The Warriors have so much money tied up in their starting lineup, that they can be vulnerable at times when they hand the game over to primarily bench players. Kerr does a great job at staggering lineups to limit their weakness, but the fact remains that teams need to pounce on the Warriors while a Curry or Durant is taking a break in order to win.
If the Celtics bench gives them a productive night, expect the Warriors to fall. However, if the Celtics can’t get the bench players going, Golden State will slowly but surely open up a resounding lead before running away with the game late.