Tyler Zeller will make his second straight start at center for the Boston Celtics tonight in their matchup against the Atlanta Hawks. Head coach Brad Stevens confirmed the move at Boston’s shootaround today in Waltham.
Zeller took over the starting role from a struggling Kelly Olynyk prior to Sunday’s loss against the San Antonio Spurs. Zeller, for his part, did an admirable job defending Tim Duncan in the post on Sunday, and that effort has help to earn him another start. The seven-footer finished with five points and a season-high 10 rebounds in 23 minutes of action.
“He’s just our biggest body,” Stevens told reporters in Atlanta Tuesday. “And he’s our most physical big other than Brandon Bass. He’s just taller than Brandon so I think that he gives us a better chance of guarding the low block.”
Olynyk will continue to come off the bench in Atlanta, in hopes for finding his rhythm once again on both ends of the floor. Over the first couple weeks of the season, Olynyk was one of Boston’s most consistent scoring weapons, posting 12 or more points in six of the team’s first eight games.
The second-year big man has tailed off mightily of late however, averaging just 6.8 points per game on 31 percent shooting during the past two weeks. Olynyk’s offensive woes combined with his size issues on the defensive end of the floor (he’s not a natural center), has led to Stevens pulling the plug on Olynyk as a starter for now.
Stevens doesn’t expect to make dramatic changes in the team’s rotation, as the team attempts to snap a four-game losing streak against another challenging opponent. He remains open to tweaking though with combinations though.
“We’ve played a lot of really good moments in this month,” Stevens said. “And as we continue to play another really good team tonight, we knew that we would be stretched in a big way. I’m trying to keep in mind that we’ve played well in a lot of cases. And at the same time, we have to change some to ultimately get over the hump against this kind of competition.”