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CelticsBlog roundtable: who starts in the front court with Al Horford?

Brad Stevens prefers to play Horford at the 4, but do the Celtics have a center with Amir Johnson in Philadelphia?

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Jeff Clark: I think you have to go with Marcus Morris at the 4 next to Horford on most nights. Yes, that means that Horford will have to play the "5" but there aren't that many bruising bigs in the league anymore. Besides, Horford can space and pace them to death on the other end. If they are really beating up on him, Stevens can quickly sub in Baynes to provide more beef in the middle. Morris provides versatility and skills that (in theory) should mesh well with the rest of the starters.

Greg Cassoli: I'm a little torn here. From a theoretical standpoint I'm in on the Marcus Morris starting power forward experiment. I'd love to see a team play small ball full-time, which is essentially what the Celtics would be committing to in pairing Horford with Morris.

The pragmatist in me buys into the idea that playing major minutes as an undersized center can have an effect across the course of the season though, and Boston can't afford to have Al Horford go out with an injury, particularly not come season's end. So I think I'd go with Baynes, with the expectation that he play a similar role to the one that Amir Johnson filled last year, including a willingness to ride the pine a bit more come playoff time. The Celtics were very successful with that strategy last year, and I don't see a reason to mess with it at this point. I could be swayed pretty easily though. In the end my answer is really whatever Brad Stevens thinks is best.

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Andrew Doxy: My initial inclination is to go with Baynes, but considering how there would be no real center to back him up, I'm leaning towards Morris now. This team will be awful in the rebounding department, and the interior defense looks pretty bad on paper as well. Having Baynes plug in the middle while allowing Horford to create space and open up the floor would be ideal. Unfortunately, the roster construction doesn't currently allow this, so having Baynes back up Horford is crucial. While it basically means punting rebounding and rim protection, Morris allows for small ball offense and a versatile "switch everything" defense. This all changes if Boston signs Andrew Bogut or someone similar to the last roster spot. Then my pick would be Bogut/Baynes.

Michael DePrisco: Aron Baynes. Morris at power forward to close out games should be deadly next to Horford, but we're talking about the start of games. I like the idea of establishing strong interior defense and rebounding right away in a game. For opposing teams, if they feel like it's easier to drive to the basket or attack the offensive glass, they'll continue it through the rest of the game. If Interior defense and rebounding is what Boston brought Baynes in for, why not let him establish a tone right away?

Matthew Chin: Aron Baynes. It's clear that the 5 out pace and space scheme with Horford at center was the most effective lineup last year, but the C's should limit Al's minutes defending against big bruising centers. I think Boston goes with Baynes so he bang against the Andre Drummond, Tristan Thompson, and Robin Lopez types. Then they sub him out at the 6 or 7 minute mark of the first quarter. I foresee Stevens downsizing in the critical minutes and going with Morris and Horford. That inevitably leaves a huge rebounding hole, but compared to last season, the Celtics are bigger in the backcourt and on the wing. Hopefully Morris can bump up his rebounding percentage playing without Drummond.

Poll

Who should start in the frontcourt next to Horford?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Aron Baynes
    (173 votes)
  • 31%
    Marcus Morris
    (92 votes)
  • 7%
    Other
    (23 votes)
288 votes total Vote Now