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3 reasons why I’m not overly worried about the Celtics minutes distribution

Brad Stevens has a problem, but it probably isn’t as big as we’re making it out to be.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics banged on the door of the NBA Finals without their 2 best players who both appear to be on track to return for training camp. Boston now has so much top level depth that a “first world problem” has emerged: Where are they going to find minutes for everyone?

I get it and I’m concerned about it (I’m the one that upset Marcus Morris by asking if there were enough minutes for him). I’m just not overly concerned about it, if that makes sense. Here are 3 reasons why:

I. Injuries happen:

If last year (and every year before that) taught us anything it is that injuries happen. Sometimes old injuries flare up. Sometimes freak accidents happen. Nobody is rooting for this to happen and I sure as heck hope that I’m wrong. However, there’s just a statistical probability that someone (or multiple someones) will get hurt and miss a significant chunk of time next season. When that happens, the “next man up” mentality that the team fed upon last year will kick in once again.

II. Resting for the playoffs (and more):

Brad Stevens has already proven himself to be adept at keeping the minutes down across the board in the regular season. Irving and Horford led the team in minutes but they were at a very manageable 32.2 and 31.6 minutes respectfully (44 players played more per-game minutes than Kyrie).

Al Horford in particular would seem to benefit from getting longer breaks and a lighter load to carry during the regular season. He’s not a dynamic volume scorer, but he makes the offense run optimally when he’s at full speed. He’s also the anchor of an elite defense. He had to step up in the playoffs out of necessity, but the fresher he is for the postseason the better.

Tying back into the first point, players like Irving and Hayward coming off of major injuries could probably stand to be eased into full time roles, at least early in the season.

There are additional benefits to resting players throughout the season that go beyond the playoffs as well. The Celtics have been very good on the 2nd half of back to backs because they made it a priority and (probably) because they don’t burn out their stars.

In general, Stevens has shown an ability to straddle that line between win-every-game and keep-the-big-picture-in-mind

III. Lack of oversized egos:

First of all, everything is relative. Players that have reached the level of playing in the NBA all have a very healthy belief in their own abilities. Nobody in that situation is going to blissfully daydream for long stretches on the bench when they know that they can be contributing to winning on the court.

On the other hand, there are certain personality types that don’t know how to productively manage that frustration and desire to play more minutes. They are the ones that become a problem in the locker room in one way or another.

The Celtics don’t seem to have a lot of guys susceptible to that though. First of all, Al Horford sets the tone with the kind of team-first daily approach to the game that makes coaches glow with praise. The young guys seem to “get it” too. Be it Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, or Terry Rozier. Each has been willing to put the team first and accept a role that benefits the greater good.

Of course winning provides the oil that makes that machine continue to run. Everyone is more willing to go along if the going is good. If the team isn’t winning, then you might see players wonder if they could and should be given a larger opportunity to turn things around. Still, one would hope that this team would be more successful than not, and if they aren’t, it stands to reason that someone else does deserve a larger role.

So there you go. I’ve talked myself right out of worrying about the great minutes crunch of 2018-19. least until training camp.

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