Gordon Hayward’s injury left Boston with a hole in their starting lineup. It’s not easy to replace a player who plays over 33 minutes and averages more than 17 points, six rebounds, and four assists per game. No player will be able to replace all that Hayward does for the team. It’s going to be a group effort to make up for the lack of points, playmaking, and defensive presence Hayward brings to the court every night.
When we start to think about who should start in place of Gordon Hayward, the first name that probably comes to mind is Marcus Smart. Whenever one of Boston’s starters dealt with an injury throughout the season, Smart was always the one to step into the starting lineup. The only issue is that when Smart starts, the bench takes a massive hit, and that’s why I think Brad Stevens shouldn’t start him for game two.
I believe Brad Stevens should take a look at starting one of his wings instead of another guard. Running a smaller lineup against Philly wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but we need to think about the bench and how this lineup change would affect it.
Starting either Grant Williams or Semi Ojeleye wouldn’t hurt the bench at all. Williams only played two minutes in game one while Ojeleye never saw the court. Moving them from the bench to the starting lineup wouldn’t disrupt the starters since the Celtics still have three players who will run the offense.
Semi would be starting for his defensive presence and his ability to hit threes. Although he hasn’t impressed me much during his time in the bubble, I think playing with the starters would be better for him. With Kemba, Jaylen, and Jayson running the offense, they’ll set Ojeleye up and get him open looks.
On the other hand, Grant might get the nod to start because of his playmaking skills and ability to make smart basketball plays. Williams has a high basketball IQ and will do whatever is asked of him. He impressed me in the two minutes he played in game one when he was ripping down offensive boards and making hustle plays.
Although I’m not happy that we’re in a situation where we’d have to start one of two guys that barely even see the court, starting either Semi or Grant would be the best thing for Boston. Honestly, I’d love to see Romeo Langford get the call to start as well, but that’d be a wildcard. I think he provides more than enough to fit in with the starters, but it still might be best to start a wing instead.
Regardless of who he starts, I trust Brad Stevens and whichever lineup he decides to roll with for game two. I really hope Smart doesn’t start, but we’ll just have to see what happens. In Brad we trust.
Photo: Sarah Stier via AP