BOSTON (CBS) -- Brad Stevens is probably spending countless hours in the lab trying to figure out the best starting five for the new-look Boston Celtics, but it appears he's found his lineup for their opening night contest in Cleveland.
With veteran forward Marcus Morris likely sidelined the next week-plus with a knee injury, it certainly sounds like Stevens will turn to rookie Jayson Tatum to fill out Boston's starting lineup on Tuesday.
"I don't want to say because then I feel like I would be stuck to it, but probably pretty similar to what we've been doing," Stevens said of his starting five after Sunday's practice.
The C's trotted out a starting five of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Tatum and Al Horford in their final preseason game, and we'll likely be treated to that group Tuesday night when Boston tips off the 2017-18 season against the Cavaliers. That means Boston will send three established stars (albeit, two of whom are new to the Boston system) and a pair of youngsters out against LeBron James and the defending Eastern Conference champs.
Brown started all four preseason games for Boston and certainly looks like he belongs in the starting lineup, averaging 10 points and four rebounds over 21.3 minutes per game. The second-year guard looks primed for a breakout season, and in starting Brown, it allows Stevens to stick with Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier off of the Boston bench.
Tatum will no doubt experience some growing pains along the way, but he too looks ready for the NBA spotlight. It's a lot to ask a 19-year-old to start in his NBA debut, let alone against the Cavaliers, but Tatum started each of the final three preseason contests for Boston and averaged 8.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in 25 minutes over their four-game exhibition slate. He shot 37 percent from the floor and 33 percent from three-point range, continuing his solid play from the summer league.
We'll see if Tatum makes his way to the bench when Morris recovers from his injury (Stevens said the veteran will be re-evaluated sometime in the next 7-10 days), and Boston's starting lineup will likely be tinkered with a handful of times over the first month or two of the season. But for now, the Celtics look comfortable sending the rookie out with their other starters, a great sign for the No. 3 overall pick last June.
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