A look at five important issues facing the Celtics as the team tips off their 2017-18 campaign on Tuesday night:
1. Will Brad Stevens stick with smaller starting five or tweak as he goes? There’s no question that the head coach will lean on Al Horford at the center spot heavily over the course of the season. However, the early returns from that look during the preseason were largely lackluster. That’s understandable given the new pieces that have to be integrated into the mix after a lengthy absence by both Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving in that group. A lack of cohesiveness was evident within the offense as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum settled for longer jumpers at an alarming rate, while Hayward was trying to find his timing back. The key for this lineup to thrive will be the offense outpacing that group’s pitfalls on defense, otherwise, the inclusion of Aron Baynes into the mix in place of a wing might be the smarter choice on some nights. Stevens doesn’t want to go to that look too much unless he has to, but the small-ball starters will have to show they can live up to their potential.