By Patrick Whalen
GORDON HAYWARD FOR THIRTY!!!! Yes fans the Gordon Hayward we’ve all been waiting to see since he came over form Utah gave Celtics fans a glimpse of what is to come when he gets rolling. Hayward had a career night on the road against the Wolves as he went for 30 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists in 30 minutes off the bench. On top of the great stats Hayward also shot the ball extremely well going 8-16 from the floor including 4-5 from downtown and 10-10 from the foul line (Basketball-Reference.com). Hayward’s fantastic performance helped lead the Celtics to a 118-109 victory in Minnesota. Haywards night was so good in fact that according to NBC Sports Boston he is the only Celtic to ever score 30+ points, 9+ rebounds, and 8+ assists off the bench and GM Danny Ainge was loving that stat on twitter.
The Celtics starters also had a good night offensively led by Kyrie with 21 points and Tatum with 19 points. Marcus Morris was also in double digits with 16 and after missing last game due to rest Al Horford had 15 points in hs return to the line up. Overall the Celtics offense had a pretty good night shooting at 47% from the field 38% from three and they didn’t miss a single one of their 21 foul shots (Basketball-Refernce.com).
The Celtics defense wasn’t dominate tonight but it was enough to get the win holding Minnesota to 45% from the field and 32% from three while also forcing 16 turnovers by the young Wolves. 9 of those turnovers were steal by the Celtic defense including this one by Marcus Smart which Mike Goorman rightfully calls it, “vintage Smart.”
The Celtics also didn’t allow KAT or Wiggins to go off on them holding them to 20 and 17 respectivley. Yes, D Rose went for 26 off the bench but with how Rose has been playing this year thats very acceptable as he is looking almost like his old MVP self. At the end of the game it was till close, which it was throughout the entire game. The Celtics were only up 6 with 36 seconds left when Gordon Hayward capped off and incredible night with a dagger corner three. The three also capped off a great fourth quarter for Hayward as he scored 16 of his 30 in the fourth (Basketball-reference.com).
Haywards performace the other night was great to see as it was reported by multiple sources that his teammates were telling him to be more aggressive with his shot. Kyrie Irving was reported saying, “that Gordon needs to pass the ball less” and also in practice it was reported by Tom Westrholm that Marcus Smart being Marcus Smart was getting under Hayward’s skin, so much so Gordon was, “red with anger” by the end of practice. This is hy this team can still be something special this year despite getting off to a slow start, becaause of how hard they push each other. Most people would say Smart pissing off Hayward would hurt team chemisty but, infact it motivated Gordon to go out and play more aggressive in the game against Minnesota. Kyrie, Smart and the rest of the team are just trying to push Hayward to be more aggresive the way he was before the injury and to go out and play the way he always has which has made him an All Star in this league. Also for all you Marcus Smart haters saying we overpaid him and hes worthless well this recent streak and with stuff like this in practice is exactly why he was worth the money and the graphics guys over at NBC Boston agree.
But even after becoming, “red with anger” in practice just days later Gordon is getting a heros treatment with a mini gatorade bath from his teammates for his record night.
This win now has the Celtics at 13-10 on the season and they are starting to hit their stride it looks like. The Celtics do not play again until Thursday as the host the Knicks. The Knicks will start a streak of 5 straight games for the Celtics against sub .500 teams. This could be the start of that streak I have been talking about all season that this needs to get right back in the conversation for the 1 seed in the eastern conference. In fact from now until Christmas the Celtics only play 3 team with winning records and they have already beat all three this year already, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philly. Lets just hope this weak upcoming schedule can transfer to a lot of W’s.
One person who could help with that is Jaylen Brown who is looking more likely to play aginst the Knicks by the day after missing the last 3 games with a back injury he suffered back in Dallas.