The NBA returned on Tuesday with a pair of Western Conference games involving the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors.
Wednesday marks the start of the season for the rest of the league, however, including the Boston Celtics. The Celtics will kick off their 2023-2024 season tonight at Madison Square Garden against the New York.
With such a pivotal Eastern Conference matchup to begin the season, Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla has opted to keep a key player on the bench to start the game.
Celtics Starting Lineup Tonight
On Wednesday morning prior to the game, Al Horford revealed that he won't be in the Celtics' starting lineup tonight.
This is somewhat surprising, as Horford has always been a fixture in Boston's starting lineup. He's played 429 games for the Celtics so far between the regular season and playoffs, and he started every one of them. In his whole career, he's only played 6 games as a reserve.
Now in his 17th NBA season, however, Horford is ready to transition to a bench role. He's 37 and needs more rest than he used to, so the expectation is that he'll be more effective in limited bursts off the bench.
Boston also made some big changes during the offseason, acquiring Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. Mazzulla prefers to go smaller and more athletic on offense, so with Porzingis taking over at center that sends Horford to the bench.
Horford anticipated this change and spoke during the preseason about how he was okay moving to the bench for the good of the team. The veteran big man is more focused on winning a ring at this stage of his career than anything else, so giving up his starting role is a sacrifice he's willing to make.
Porzingis is notoriously injury-prone anyways, so it probably won't be long before Horford's back in the starting lineup.
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