Brad Stevens

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Brad Stevens confident Celtics lineup will re-calibrate with return of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward

Vincent Gallo
August 07, 2018 - 4:48 pm

Brad Stevens isn’t going to allow the return of All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward from injury to faze how he approaches his starting lineup.

The Celtics head coach of five years spoke with Chris Mannix of Yahoo! Sports about his early assessment on a 2018-19 roster that will also be aided with the return of guard Marcus Smart and forward Aron Baynes.

“We’ll just do it like we’ve always done it,” Stevens said on Mannix’s podcast. “I do think our guys have a recognition overall that [minute distribution is] not what it’s about … It’s about trying to be the best that we can be collectively. If we all do what we do to the best of our ability, it’ll benefit everybody individually. You only get so many chances to be a part of a special group. We’re pretty fortunate to be in this position, so we need to take advantage of it.”

There are other approaches Stevens plans to take in addition to keeping the team morale in check by stressing to play out its current opportunity to the fullest. Stevens also wants to be sure the 2019 offseason will not interfere with the Celtics current goals, stating that he will not speak with Irving, an upcoming unrestricted free agent, about his commitment to the team long-term.

“I’m not going to talk to him about it all,” said Stevens. “One of things I want to do is just give everything I can to all these guys while they’re here. Hopefully, the people that are here recognize it’s a really good environment with a high upside for a long time and a place that’ll be committed to them.”

Stevens reiterated that he has high respect and trust in each of his players’ abilities. In addition to taking on a position-less basketball view toward the depth chart, last season’s coach of the year candidate acknowledged that he sees himself managing 8-10 players who have the ability to start games.

“Marcus Smart has come off the bench for two years, and I’ve never considered Marcus Smart to be a non-starter,” Stevens explained. “We’re going to have different lineups out there, and everybody is going to get a different opportunity and lots of opportunities to make an impact.”

Stevens is focused on avoiding any distraction to the team success, such as any debate over roles, or specific amounts of individual scoring opportunities. Nor is he going to allow his team to become complacent while the pre-season narrative of the Celtics being the favorite in the East continues to be pushed.

“I’ve been on teams that have been at the top level the year before and then really tailed off at the start of the next season,” he said. “The challenge is coming back and saying, ‘We’re committed to doing all of these little details again.’ There will be no steps that will be skipped. We’re not trying to be playing in April on September 26, we’re trying to be better on September 27.”

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