I’m very patient with Gordon Hayward. I really don’t understand why everyone is so upset that a guy, who’s ankle imploded a little over a year ago, isn’t one hundred percent yet. I mean think about it, he’s ten months removed from learning how to walk again, the expectation shouldn’t be elite NBA caliber basketball in January. Has his recovery and rehab gone a smidgen slower than expected? Yeah, maybe, I wont argue against that. However, expecting this guy to be the scoring machine he was in Utah at this point is asinine. His current role of “offense off the bench” is perfect for where he is at right now, but last night, boy howdy was he dialed in. If the Gordon we saw last night sticks around the rest of the league can pack it in, it’s over.
To be clear, I’m not demanding that Gordon Hayward plays that well every night. As a matter of fact, I’m really not even expecting it, but this was a low key big game and he stepped up in a big way. I’m not going to get into the specifics of Gordon’s night, Chuck already has in his post game review, but the Green were sitting ducks going into last nights game. Coming off an ugly loss to the Spurs, and down their leader Kyrie, an ugly loss to KAT and the T-Wolves looked to be a foregone conclusion. We needed someone to step up and our usual secondary scorers did not. Tatum was 3-11 and Morris was 3-9 so that scoring had to come from elsewhere. That elsewhere was Gordon. He shot 14-18 with 3 of his 4 misses coming from behind the arc. That mid range game is something the Celtics need badly right now, as their offense is very much living and dying with threes, but none of that is the best part of last night. Not even close. For the first time maybe all season, he wasn’t tentative.
All year when Gordon Hayward has done anything other than catch and shoot, he’s looked uneasy. He either blindly attacked the rim or dribbled into a traffic. Last night though he was cutting effectively and getting to the spots he’s comfortable pulling up from. When he starts shooting effectively, the rest of his game opens up in a big way. On multiple occasions when the defense closed out on him, he blew by what ever scrub was in front of him and either finished at the rim, or drew the defense over and found the open man. It was as simple and textbook as an NBA offense can be, and it was beautiful. Without Kyrie we needed that exact performance from Gordon, but we need it more so when Kyrie comes back.
Right now defenses are zeroing in on Kyrie any time he has the ball. Aside from Marcus Morris, no one on this team has consistently scored at a solid rate alongside Kyrie. When Kyrie is back and if Gordon can draw defenses in like he did last night, guys like Tatum Brown and Horford are going to be left alone to feast on defenses. Utah Jazz Gordon Hayward could be the key to getting this team to the top of the East. Yeah, it’s going to be a while before Gordon can do that nightly, but when that time comes green and white banners are going to come in bunches.
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