It’s been a tough start to Gordon Hayward’s career with the Boston Celtics. He suffered a fractured tibia and dislocated ankle on opening night last season and missed the rest of season. After a full year to rehab, it was clear he still wasn’t 100 percent.
Hayward struggled to score in the first month and a half of 2018. He finished October and November averaging just over 10 points per game and only made 22 three-point shots. Once those struggles led to a three-game losing streak against the Utah Jazz, Charlotte Hornets, and New York Knicks, Brad Stevens demoted Hayward to the bench for Marcus Morris. The Celtics are 3-1 since the demotion and ride a three-game winning streak.
Hayward did what was best for the Celtics and accepted the demotion. Last night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the demotion took his game to new heights.
Hayward finished last nights game with 30 points, nine rebounds and, eight assists off the bench. He shot 4-5 from three and 10-10 from the free-throw line. His point, assist, field-goals made, three-pointers made, and free-throw shot totals were a season high. The nine rebounds also tied his season high.
What Hayward did last night has never been done before in franchise history. He became the first player in Celtics history to post 30 or more points, nine or more rebounds, and eight or more assists when coming off the bench. Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge even took to Twitter last night to compliment the star forward.
That’s saying something💪🏼 https://t.co/v7xLgXyndG
— Danny Ainge (@danielrainge) December 2, 2018
It also got him a Gatorade shower from his teammates during his post game interview.
How can you not love this team?! 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/h1WuuZjC0U
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 2, 2018
Last night was a night the Boston Celtics and their fans have been patiently waiting for. Hayward signed a four-year, $128 million contract in 2017 to help win this team to an NBA Championship. After losing in Game 7 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics expected Hayward to help lift this team past that seventh game. His early season performances weren’t helping this team reach its full potential.
The Celtics showed last night how dominant this team can truly be. Outside of Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, and Morris scored 15 or more points. Irving also led the Celtics with nine assists. Tatum tied Hayward with a team-high nine rebounds.
It’s refreshing to see what this team can do with Hayward playing to the best of his abilities. The Celtics now look like a complete different team and are playing their best basketball this season. Patience will still be key as Hayward continues to build confidence in his game for the rest of this season. Their patience is paying off.