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Topic Tuesday: Do the Boston Celtics play many minutes?

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The winning streak was very interesting. It was great to see the team thrive despite the pre-season turmoil and seem to have a rotating squad of players in and out of the squad. Joe Mazzulla deserves all the praise and credit he has for leading the team to a 13-4 record and (until last night) the highest offensive rating in the league.

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However, losses tend to reveal issues that are covered up in wins. Defense has been a concern all year, but that’s another topic. What I wanted to focus on is the amount of minutes our key players play.

Below are our starting lineup averages.

  • Jason Tatum: 37.2 minutes
  • Jaylen Brown: 36.0 minutes
  • Marcus Smart: 32.9 minutes
  • Al Horford: 31.6 min
  • Derek White: 26.1 minutes

Note that Grant Williams actually plays more minutes than White at 29.0 minutes a game, but that may have something to do with playing more minutes on games that Horford sits out.

You don’t have to look far back to see the impact of eroding our stars. The second half of last season was a sprint (necessary due to the team’s poor start to the season). By the end of the finals, Tatum, Brown, and most of the team seemed exhausted.

The players collectively looked great at the start of this season, but the bumps and bruises are really starting to creep in and Tatum in particular has looked… less than great lately. It’s hard to tell if this is just a cold streak, traces of an injured thumb, or some early sign of exhaustion.

Tatum played the second most minutes in the entire league (633.1 minutes), trailing only Kyle Lowry (655.9 minutes).

I know Tatum loves to play, and the Stars end up playing long minutes because they are so important to a team’s success. I just want it to have enough battery charge available to run deep into june.

And what about our resident statesman? as such Refers to Brian Robb on MassLiveAl Horford played 35 minutes in last night’s game that wasn’t particularly close all night. Senior backup Luke Kornet was effectively benched in the second half.

This is a risky bet for Mazzulla and Celtics When it comes to the long term which has been going on for most of the year so far. Horford averages 31.6 minutes per game, his highest total since the 2017-18 season when the All-Star was 31 years old.

Right now, the Celtics have one of the deepest seats in the league, and although the reserves have significant shortcomings with Rob Williams out, they must try to protect and keep Horford at all costs. His relief in two straight positions was a good start, but his playing heavy minutes in long shot scenarios shouldn’t happen. Mazzola pulled Horford with five minutes left in the Bulls game but he had already played 35 minutes by that point.

As Rob points out, the Celtics have a very good bench seat. They have proven that they can contribute to the victories. Why not give them a little more run and get them more experience and actors in the process?

What do you think? Should Mazzulla call back the minutes for starters, even if it ends up costing us a game here or there? Discuss in the comments below.

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