PHOENIX — After one of their worst performances of the season in the first half against the Phoenix Suns, the Boston Celtics made a surprising move: Starting Marcus Smart in place of Jayson Tatum.
Boston trailed the Suns — who have struggled on both ends this season — 55-35. They shot just 21.7 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from behind the arc.
NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin, speaking to Celtics assistant Micah Shrewsbury during the break, reported the Celtics were looking for “five guys who are going to play hard.”
#Celtics change up the starting lineup a bit in the 2nd half: Irving, Smart, Brown, Hayward and Horford. Micah Shrewsberry told me, we’re just looking for 5 guys who’re gonna play hard… effort is non-negotiable.
— Abby Chin (@tvabby) November 9, 2018
Tatum finished the first half 0-for-4 with no points, assists or rebounds.
The Celtics briefly closed the gap at the start of the third quarter before the Suns pushed the lead back to 17 points with 3:14 left in the third quarter.
Tatum did not return until the 3:14 mark, after a timeout. He was part of a lineup with Terry Rozier, Semi Ojeleye, Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown.