The Boston Celtics have experimented with Gordon Hayward coming off the bench for the past few games. Here’s why this move is better for both Hayward and the team.
The Boston Celtics signed Gordon Hayward to a max contract during the 2017 offseason. At that time, he was continually getting better and had just made his first appearance in the All-Star game with the Utah Jazz.
Then the horrific injury occurred during opening night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s luckily recovered and has played in every game this season, except for Saturday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks due to ankle soreness.
That’s his same ankle he injured a season ago. This is something that’s worth watching, but assuming it’s nothing serious, he should be back in the lineup soon.
The Celtics have not started the season to their liking. They’re currently 10-10, sitting in sixth in the Eastern Conference. Many had anticipated the Celtics to be one of the top teams in the East this year. That can all change rather quickly as it’s only November and there is still plenty of time.
To begin the season, the team ran out a starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford. On paper, that lineup should have no trouble scoring points and defending opposing teams.
Defense hasn’t been an issue for Boston this season. It’s the offense that hasn’t gone as well as many people thought it would — and rightfully so, because when a team has a starting lineup like that, they’re expected to be able to play well on offense.
There aren’t many teams that have that kind of talent in their starting five. However, sometimes having too much talent is not a good thing, especially when it’s mixed with a bunch of players who like to get shots up.
Last season when the team was winning, it had a variety of lineups. The major change between last season’s starting five and this year’s lineup was the addition of Hayward.
That’s not to say that he’s a negative player, but Hayward is still trying to find his footing with his new team and it’s caused some issues. Even though the Celtics continue to hover around .500, Hayward coming off the bench is something they need to continue to do — at least until he’s back to 100 percent and has shaken off all the rust.
This will allow the players in the starting lineup to hopefully perform like they did last season. If they add Aron Baynes to the starting lineup, the other four players will have more room to shoot the ball.
The Celtics rank 16th in the NBA in bench scoring with 36.3 points per game. Hayward is a scorer who could help the team increase that total. Plus, he’d be the best player on offense for the team’s second unit.
Having the room to focus on taking the majority of the shots and playing against opposing team’s backups may help Hayward regain his footing faster. Him getting back to form allows Boston to become a better team, which is something they need badly to start climbing back up the standings.
To sum it all up, Hayward coming off the bench for the time being only helps him and the Celtics. This allows the starting lineup to play with more familiarity and have the ability to evenly distribute more shots. It also may help Hayward find his groove faster and return to form as soon as possible.
The Celtics are struggling and this move may help them win more games. Despite the team still losing games with this recent change, it’s something that they will need to continue to experiment with. This fix is not going to happen over night, but over time.