Boston Celtics New Coach Ime Udoka Explains Surprising Choice for 5th Starter in Preseason Opener

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens surprised many by starting veteran guard Ime Udoka, rather than rookie point guard Kyrie Irving, in the season opener.

The Boston Celtics head coach is a new man in charge of the Boston Celtics. Ime Udoka was hired by the team to be the new head coach, but what surprised many people was his choice for 5th starter in the preseason opener. Read more in detail here: celtics head coach.

The Boston Celtics have had a lot of changes this summer. Danny Ainge, the former president of basketball operations, is no longer with us. Brad Stevens was promoted from the coaching staff to Ainge’s front-office position. Ime Udoka, formerly of the Brooklyn Nets, has been brought in to replace Brad Stevens.

Kemba Walker is also no longer with us. Al Horford has returned to the team. Four players are certain starters: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams. Udoka made an unexpected decision for his fifth one in Monday’s preseason opener against the Orlando Magic.

The Boston Celtics were not at their best, yet still managed to beat the Orlando Magic.


Ime-Udoka-1-1024x683 Ime Udoka, the head coach of the Boston Celtics, leads his team during the second half of their preseason game against the Orlando Magic at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 4, 2021. | Getty Images/Maddie Meyer

Udoka has experienced what it was like to be an opponent at TD Garden. He was an assistant with the Nets last season and saw the hostile crowd in Game 4 of the first round of the playoffs. During the 2020-21 season, full-capacity sitting was permitted for the first time. The audience was harsh on former Celtics player Kyrie Irving, who now plays for the Nets.

Udoka was looking forward to seeing what life was like on the other side.

“I’m definitely more eager about a preseason game than I’ve ever been for one. According to The Boston Herald, Udoka stated on Monday, “I can say that.” “It’s a huge deal that the fans have returned. It was the first time they had fans in the building here for our Brooklyn series last year, and you could sense the enthusiasm. 

“So, even though it’s only a preseason game for us, we have a new coaching staff and new personnel, and we want to get them to gel fast since we only have four games left. So it’s a positive feeling. We’re excited to play against someone else and see some different coverages than we’ve seen in training camp.”

In the first game, the Celtics shot only 35% from the field. In Udoka’s coaching debut, Romeo Langford hit a 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining to give the Celtics a 98-97 win.

Ime Udoka discusses why he chose Boston Celtics fifth starter Ime Udoka.

When the Celtics faced the Magic on Monday, rookie Juancho Hernangomez was named to the starting lineup with Brown, Tatum, Smart, and Williams. Despite the fact that it was just the first preseason game, Hernangomez, a 6-foot-9 forward acquired in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, was given the start.

If Udoka wanted to go with size, he had a lot of choices, like Horford or Grant Williams. Aaron Nesmith or Josh Richardson were also options. Hernangomez was chosen by the coach, who said that it was more of an experiment than anything else.

According to Mass Live, Udoka stated before the game, “Juancho’s a player who fits into that position with some of the younger wings we have as well as Grant Williams.” “So, like I said the other day, we’ll play around with various lineups and see what we can come up with.”

Hernangomez, who last played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, had six points and four rebounds in 17 minutes. He was dealt to the Grizzlies in August in exchange for Patrick Beverley. He was on the road again three weeks later, landing in Boston.

Horford was complimented by Udoka, who indicated he might be the fifth starter.

Horford, who played for the Celtics from 2016 to 2019, is back in Boston this season. He joined the Philadelphia 76ers as a free agency before being dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In a trade for Kemba Walker, the Celtics brought him back to Boston this summer.

Udoka stated that they already know what they have in Horford, who could start once the regular season begins.

According to Mass Live, Udoka stated, “Al has done what he’s done all preseason since he came back.” “He looks fantastic in open gym. For those men out there, he’s a steady force. We know who we have now, and we’re going to experiment with some more lineups because Al can do a lot of things out there. But, as I have said, don’t put too much stock in who we start and who we play. With that group, we know what we have in Al.”

Udoka is still learning and will be experimenting with different rotations as the squad gets to know one another. It seems like Boston’s season of transition is ongoing, and will most likely continue throughout the season.

With an ecstatic Al Horford, the Boston Celtics hope to learn from the Philadelphia 76ers’ mistakes.

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