We all know what happened to Gordon Hayward, as he suffered a Paul George, Kevin Ware type injury less than six minutes into his Boston Celtics career. The pictures, videos say it all. Some of us can’t stop looking at them, and some of us refuse to look at them. NBA Players reached out via twitter:
This injury shell shocked a lot of fans, and of course the Celtics.
It seemed like they lost all of their energy and fight, as the Cavs jumped out to an 18-point lead.
But, in the second half, they started fighting, Marcus Smart started abusing Kyle Korver, and Jaylen Brown cashed in on his offseason work. Kyrie was hitting from deep, and Jayson Tatum picked it up after a rough first half. The fight the Celtics showed was unbelievable. After lacking emotion, they picked it up and fought for their brother, and set the tone for the next 81 games.
Already thin with no Marcus Morris or Guerschon Yabusele, the Celtics were six inches short of sending the game into overtime as a Kyrie three pointer would not drop.
So, with their All-Star forward gone, where do the Celtics go from here?
Jaylen Brown, already starting, will have an extended scoring role. He proved capable of that dropping 25 points last night, playing 40 minutes. Tatum may be thrust into a starting role at the three spot, once Marcus Morris returns. He showed his elite scoring ability last night with 14 points while playing 37 minutes. Marcus Smart, the longest tenured Celtic, could take the starting role, and Tatum could come off the bench. Terry Rozier will also have an increased scoring role, playing 20 minutes last night, scoring nine points. Obviously everybody will have to step up, but these four guys are the ones who have the biggest opportunities to shine in lieu of the injury.
Early reaction shows optimism from fans that Hayward could be back for the playoffs, but it is way too early to tell. No need to rush him back in the first year of his contract. The Celtics can sign a free agent, trade, or claim a player off waivers and use the disabled player option for $8.4 million.
Available, Notable Free Agents:
- Gerald Green (31 years old)
- Mike Dunleavy (37 years old)
- Matt Barnes (37 years old)
- Monta Ellis (31 years old)
- Archie Goodwin (22 years old)
- Randy Foye (33 years old)
- Brandon Jennings (27 years old)
- Deron Williams (33 years old)
Any of these guys could be a nice off the bench fit to take the scoring load off. Personally I would go with Gerald Green. He knows the culture, a veteran leader who is familiar with Brad Stevens offense, and still athletic as hell and a great shooter from the outside.
Many NBA pundits believed the Celtics closed the gap in the East with the Hayward signing, and the trade for Kyrie Irving. However, they still felt Cleveland was the best team in East. Now, that is definitely the case. The Boston Celtics will now slip into talks of challenging Washington and Toronto for the second best team in the East. To beat Cleveland and move to the Eastern Conference Finals, you need Gordon Hayward. Now we have to see how his injury and this season plays out.
LET’S GO CELTICS
If the Celtics were to have been blown out by 30 points last night, it would have easily been dismissed. Due to the extremity and gruesomeness of Hayward’s injury. But, they fought, and the pissed off guy who couldn’t reach a contract extension led the way. Marcus Smart led the comeback, and his teammates followed. They showed this team can hang with Cleveland, and guess what? The guy who will guard LeBron a lot this year, Marcus Morris, didn’t even play. So this team has a lot of damn potential, and they also have one of the best coaches in the league. So the Celtics are going to show their fans what they are made of tonight at TD Garden when they host the Bucks. They are playing for Gordon Hayward this year, and myself, and the city of Boston are behind them.