Pregame Post-Ups: Time for Young Wings to Step Up In Brown’s Absence

Saturday, Oct. 9 - Raptors at Celtics

Pregame – C’s Look For Young Wings to Step Up In Brown’s Absence

Jaylen Brown will likely miss the remainder of the preseason after testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka announced Saturday evening. However, the team is hopeful that the All-Star wing will be healthy and cleared to go for the Oct. 16 regular-season opener in New York.

In the meantime, these next three exhibition games – including Saturday night’s matchup against the Toronto Raptors – will be a critical stretch for some of Boston’s role players to show what they can do, as they step in to help fill Brown’s vacancy.

“We know what we have with Jaylen, we know his role,” Udoka said before Saturday’s tip-off at TD Garden. “Overall, it’s an opportunity for the guys to step in and play, and it’s something teams have had to navigate the last year and a half now and be ready for that.”

Sliding into Brown’s starting spot Saturday night will be Romeo Langford, who played hero in Monday night’s preseason opener against Orlando by knocking down the game-winning 3-pointer in a 98-97 win.

Udoka will also be mixing up his frontcourt, as Al Horford will be inserted alongside Rob Williams. The power forward position is the only uncertainty within the C’s starting five, so this will be an opportunity to see how things go with a double-big lineup after going with stretch-4 Juancho Hernangomez Monday night.

The C’s will also have to fill Dennis Schroder’s void Saturday night, after the veteran point guard suffered a knee contusion during practice Friday. With both him and Brown out, we’ll likely see a significant spike in playing time for some of the youngsters, such as Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith.

Aside from the personnel changes, there will also be some playing time adjustments. After limiting his core players to 24 minutes in game one of the preseason, Udoka plans on bumping their PT up to around 28.

“We’ll increase that slightly in the next few games,” the coach added. “It’s not like back in the day when you had seven, eight games to play guys and ramp it up. We want to increase their minutes overall, so we’ll keep them probably in the 28-minute range. But like I said, with Jaylen out there’s a void to fill, so other young guys and some of the other wings and small-ball 4s will get time there.”

- Taylor Snow


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