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Your Morning Dump… Where the Celtics are back – but what happens now?

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.

(Photo: © Rick Osentoski)

After eight days off, the Celtics are back in action tonight at Detroit. When last we saw them, they had suffered three consecutive thrashings at home. We don’t know what to expect at this point, but here’s a status report.

“Definitely rotate a little bit differently,” Stevens said after the Celtics reconvened for their first post-All Star break practice. “I don’t know if that means changes in the starting lineup. We’ll definitely have some rotations that will (change). Certainly it’ll be night to night, with tweaks from when guys enter the game, etc.”

The normal starting lineup with Aron Baynes at center has posted a +13.5 net rating over 305 minutes, with a lovely 95.2 defensive rating. Stevens occasionally switches the first unit against the most dynamic opponents, but should not feel a pressing need to alter the usual formula.

The bench rotation should be Stevens’ bigger worry. Should he stagger Al Horford and Kyrie Irving to keep at least one of them on the floor almost all the time? What should he do with the frontcourt rotation that suddenly includes three competent centers in Baynes, Daniel Theis and Greg Monroe? Can Stevens keep playing Marcus Morris and the 3 and Theis at the 4 in some monster lineups? Or will those units ruin any hope of fielding a strong offense?

MassLive: Brad Stevens says team will ‘definitely rotate a little bit differently’

Smart is recovered from his hand injury, but nothing comes easy for this team’s health.

Although the Cs are currently just two games back of Toronto in the East, Basketball Reference projects them to stay there. The projection says the Cs will finish with 53 wins, which would match last season. Depending on your point of view, that would either be impressive (overachieving after losing Hayward) or disappointing (drop-off after the London trip).

Related – Boston Sports Journal: 4 potential tweaks to watch as Celtics return from All-Star break | MassLive: Marcus Smart, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford sit out practice, but expected to play against Detroit Pistons

On Page 2: Happy Kyrie

Nichols: “You took a huge gamble this year. You changed pretty much everything about your life. Now that you are six, seven months in, how do you feel it’s workout it?

Irving: “It’s still a lot of newness, honestly, being with a totally different group of guys. It’s an adjustment in itself. Individually and then trying to bridge that gap with our group and be my best self with our group, it’s been awesome — trying at times, but well worth it.”

Nichols: Do you ever look around just in the morning when you wake up and think, ‘I am so glad this worked out?'”

Irving: “I was actually talking to my best friend Alex about it. And I have moments with him where I’m like, ‘Man, we’re really somewhere else right now. Like, this is something different.’ It was a big chance. And Babe Ruth said it: ‘Swing big and you may not miss big. You may hit a home run.’ I don’t know. But seriously, I’m glad that I took a chance on what I wanted to do within my career.”

MassLive: Kyrie Irving: Move to Boston Celtics ‘well worth it,’ ‘glad’ I took a chance within my career

Still, the ultimate goal is raising another championship banner in Boston and raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

“It’s something I think about every day,” Irving said. “I think about it every day.”

NBC Sports Boston: Kyrie tells ESPN his move to Boston ‘trying at times, but well worth it’

Celtics fans all think the same, Kyrie.

I’ll take this as a good sign that he won’t be looking elsewhere when his contract expires after next season.

Related – NESN: NBA Rumors: Here’s What Served As ‘Tipping Point’ For Kyrie Irving, Cavs

And, finally…

Recent comments from NBA commissioner Adam Silver about tweaking the league’s playoff format drew intense media coverage, but sources say there is also some behind-the-scenes momentum for the idea of a play-in tournament determining the last two seeds in each conference — to the point that two specific proposals are circulating at the highest levels within teams and the league office.

The play-in proposal that has generated the most discussion, according to several sources: two four-team tournaments featuring the seventh, eighth, ninth, and 10th seeds in each conference. The seventh seed would host the eighth seed, with the winner of that single game nabbing the seventh spot, sources say. Meanwhile, the ninth seed would host the 10th seed, with the winner of that game facing the loser of the 7-versus-8 matchup for the final playoff spot.

ESPN: The NBA is having real discussions about a playoffs play-in tournament

As the article points out, this idea has many challenges to overcome. It would need approval from the competition committee, then from 23 of the 30 teams, and from the players’ union. Implementation wouldn’t happen for at least a couple of years. And it would complicate the lottery system – for example, if a team finishes 10th but wins the tournament and a playoff berth.

But I would watch the hell out of it. Who wouldn’t?