Pregame Post-Ups: C's Starting Five is Available Tonight
Wednesday, January 27 - Celtics at Spurs
Pregame – C's are Fully Loaded with Star Power for First Time This Season
If you happened to circle “Jan. 27 at San Antonio” on the Boston Celtics’ calendar as the first date they’d have their entire starting five available this season, you should go buy a lottery ticket. You nailed it.
Tonight does, in fact, mark the first time this season that the Celtics will have all of their starters available. This occasion has been delayed by a myriad of obstacles, beginning with Kemba Walker’s left knee rehabilitation, extending with Jayson Tatum’s absence due to COVID-19, and ending with Walker missing Monday’s game in Chicago due to the contest falling on the second night of a back-to-back.
Now, finally, all of those issues have been pushed to the side and the Celtics are prepared to take the court with Walker, Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and a to-be-determined big man for the first time this season.
Brad Stevens, the Celtics and their fan base have been waiting months for this moment. Stevens knows exactly what he wants to see now that the moment has finally arrived.
“I’d just like to see us play the way that we want to: we want to play with great energy and togetherness at both ends of the court,” he said about 90 minutes ahead of tip-off against the Spurs. “I think we need to play up the court with good speed on offense and good pace throughout the possession, and then on defense, we need to set our defense better as a team.”
The coach noted that the Celtics are playing a perfect team to challenge them in their attempt to set their defense.
“That’s what I’d like to see improve that will be tested by a really good team that’s very athletic at the wings,” he said.
The Spurs and their roster are flying under the radar this season. Only half the teams in the league have a winning record at this point, and San Antonio is one of them, at 9-8.
The Spurs also boast loads of depth, with seven players averaging at least 11.8 points per game. Boston’s old friend DeMar DeRozan is leading their charge with an average of 20.1 PPG.
Alongside DeRozan is a crop of other talented guards and wings which includes defensive star and emerging offensive talent Dejounte Murray, guard Patty Mills, sophomore wing Keldon Johnson, third-year guard Lonnie Walker IV, and veteran wing Rudy Gay. Each member of that group is averaging between 22.6 and 30.5 minutes per game, meaning that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is rolling with strength via numbers as opposed to strength via stardom.
Boston is at the other end of the spectrum. It is loaded with star power, a group of which will finally be whole tonight.
This moment undoubtedly took longer to arrive than anyone in Boston would have hoped. The wait, however, is finally over.
- Marc D'Amico