Boston (13-10): 118 – Minnesota (11-12): 109
Gordon Hayward: 30 PTS 9 REB 8 AST 2 STL
Kyrie Irving: 21 PTS 3 REB 9 AST
Jayson Tatum: 19 PTS 9 REB 2 AST 1 STL
Derrick Rose: 26 PTS 4 AST 1 STL
Karl-Anthony Towns: 20 PTS 9 REB 1 AST 1 STL/BLK
Robert Covington: 17 PTS 10 REB 4 STL
I’m going to start off by saying this: NEVER wear those eye sore highlighter jerseys ever again @Timberwolves. Ok, now that that’s off of my chest, there was a game last night, and it was a pretty good one. Coming off of their 2 game winning streak, the Celtics had their sights on pushing it to 3 on the second night of a back to back. Once again, Kyrie set the tone, scoring 9 in the first quarter on 3-5 from the floor. After getting out to slow starts early on, he’s taken it upon himself to get this team going offensively right off the bat. The ball movement was key as they tallied 9 assists in the first and they really were clicking out there. One play in particular, Tatum drove baseline and they swung it twice from the corner en route to a wide open three for Marcus Morris. When the Celtics are moving the ball like that, not many teams can keep up with them on the offensive end. For Minnesota, it was a pretty balanced attack in the first and D-Rose had a couple of tough buckets later on in the frame. Taj Gibson was another thorn in the Celtic’s side as he was causing problems down low. After a competitive first quarter, the Celtics led 29-26.
The second is where things started to get fun and I’m referring to Gordon Hayward. While it’s been documented here a VFTW that he’s been improving each game, he hadn’t had that signature “I’m Back” performance yet. While we waited 20 games to see it, it finally happened. He got going in the second with 12 points and he was forcing the issue on offense. In comparison to when he was struggling, it’s like night and day. He came off of screens hard, looked for his offense, and facilitated when he needed to. One of my favorite plays of the night from him was a tip in where he came flying into the paint. He’s been so hesitant and it was promising to see him slowly break out of that funk, and become more fearless driving to the paint. He posted 14/6/3 in the first half on 4-7 from the floor, 2-2 from downtown, and 4-4 from the charity stripe. His efforts were key in the second as the rest of the team went a combined 6-18 in the quarter. While the TWolves shot poorly as well (8-20 in the quarter), Hayward kept the Celtics in front. After a Hayward two was changed to a three, the Celtics led at half by a mark of 57-48.
The third was more of the same as they went back and forth all quarter, but the contributors differed a little bit. Tatum and Al got going scoring 10 and 8 points in the quarter respectively. For Minnesota, Towns and Wiggins kept them alive as at one point Wiggins scored 9 straight points. While not much happened in the third in regards to the score differing, we got a Smarf hustle play (I LOVE Smarf hustle plays). After picking KAT’s pocket, from the ground, Smart flung it up court over his head to Tatum, who then gave it off to Kyrie, and then Kyrie lobbed it up to Tatum for the dunk.
Going into the fourth, the Celtics saw their lead from halftime dwindle a tiny bit as they hung on up 84-77. Hayward hit a three from the right wing to start the frame and assisted in pushing the Celtic lead to 10 at 89-79. The Timberwolves went on a 10-0 run, including a couple D-rose buckets on top of some solid pray from Gorgui Dieng. Enter Kyrie Irving, who helped stabilize the situation after a blown lead. He led the charge facilitating as he had 3 dimes in the quarter and helped to free Hayward up from deep. He also had a flair for the theatric as off of a tipped pass by Rose the ball was redirected towards him, he got it, floated in mid air, and put it in.
Remember that “I’m back” performance I was talking about earlier on in the recap? This was the quarter where it all happened for Hayward. From 3:10 on he had 11 of his 16 fourth quarter points to fend off a great performance by Derrick Rose (11 4th quarter points). Every time the Twolves got close, Gordon buried a jumper, or had a strong drive for a bucket. Kyrie kept making an effort to feed him and he responded in a huge way. In one of their better performances this year, they finished the job, and came away with a win 118-109.
- Since he’s our clear POTG, I won’t get into Gordon’s performance until that portion of the recap.
- Kyrie has impressed me this season by how well he’s able to adjust his game on the fly. He made it a clear goal of his to get Gordon the ball and his 9 assists show his value, not only in the points department, but his ability to get others involved.
- The Celtics had another solid offensive night with shooting splits of 47.1/38.6/100. They’ve been scoring at will their past 7 games at a clip of 115.57 points per game. Their shots are starting to go in, after a cold start to the season, and were seeing the real potential of this team offensively.
- Tatum provided a spark in the 3rd quarter and contributed 19 and 9 for the game. It was fun to see all 3 of him, Kyrie, and Hayward rolling at different points in the game. With this sort of offensive firepower, guys can take over for different stretches, which makes them so hard to guard as a team.
- Al took advantage of KAT all night long on offense. When covered by Towns, Al was 6-9 from the floor for 13 points. KAT was bbq chicken and it showed over and over again. Al effectively stretched the floor and had 15 points in total on 7-11 from the field. On the other end, players defended by Horford went 6-16 from the floor. He did it on both ends and provided on both ends for the Celtics.
- Impressive effort on the second night of a back to back. They came to play and now have some momentum to build off of. Hopefully this winning streak continues and they can gain some ground back at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Player of the Game: Gordon Hayward
Daddy was most certainly happy last night and it was easily his best game in green. 30 points along with his 16 in the fourth was an impressive feat. He looked like vintage Gordon Hayward and he seemed to get his swagger back. What’s even more impressive is how he did a bit of everything. Not only was he a force on offense but his defense was effective as well. Players defended by Hayward went a combined 2-9 and he also contributed 2 steals. Put that up with his 8 rebounds and 9 dimes and you have yourself an all-around dominant performance. He’s starting to hit his stride off of the bench and this is another step in his return to the Gordon Hayward of years past. His teammates were so happy for him and you can tell how good it must have felt for him to finally get the monkey off of his back and contribute a huge performance.
The Celtics get the next 4 days off and then return home to faceoff with the Knicks (8-16) Thursday night (12/6) at 8:00 PM ET
PHOTO: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters
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