The Celtics went on a four-game winning streak from October 25th to November 1st to improve to 6-2 on the year. After that stretch, they went 3-7 over their next 10 to fall to 9-9.
Questions and doubts began to arise. How could a team with so much proven talent be struggling to stay afloat? Perhaps there are issues with their chemistry.
Ever since their loss to the Knicks in Boston on November 21st, we’ve seen a different team. The C’s hit the road and won two out of three, destroying the Hawks 114-96 in Atlanta and the Pelicans 124-107 in New Orleans. Then they came back home and embarrassed the Cavs 128-95 at the Garden. Over those three games, they outscored their opponents by a total of 68 points.
The Celtics are in the midst of a tiresome and downright confusing stretch in their schedule. They went back on the road for one game to take on the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Saturday night. That quick trip resulted in a 118-109 win, undoubtedly the most important of the season thus far. Why? Gordon Hayward.
Coming off one of the more gruesome injuries in NBA history less than 14 months ago, Hayward has struggled to find any rhythm through the first month and a half of his long-awaited comeback season. He was recently removed from the starting lineup for his lack of production.
On Saturday he was the first guy off the bench and the best player in the floor when he was out there, finishing with 30 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists in 30 minutes. He received a Gatorade shower after the game.
The Celtics have now won three in a row and four out of five for the first time since that short-lived but promising run a month ago. Hopefully this is the start of the long winning streak that we’ve been desperately waiting for.
Hayward was the player of the game and he was the only big contributor off the bench, but all five of the starters were dynamite:
Kyrie Irving had 21 points and 9 assists
Jayson Tatum had 19 points and 9 rebounds
Marcus Morris had 16 points
Al Horford had 15 points
The only starter who wasn’t in double figures was Marcus Smart, but he had four steals and pulled off the most impressive play of the season thus far with eight minutes to go in the third quarter. After stealing Andrew Wiggins’ pass, Smart hit Jayson Tatum in stride while sitting on his ass and facing the wrong direction:
Apparently the Celtics have two All-Star breaks this year because they don’t play again until December 6th. That’s two games in nine days (11/27-12/5). When they return to action on Thursday after four consecutive days off, they’ll take on the Knicks in Boston and try to win their fourth in a row for just the second time this year.
Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour