Five reasons why it’s all coming together for the Boston Celtics, as they prepare to face-off against the Milwaukee Bucks in the second-round of the NBA Playoffs
Three years ago, the Boston Celtics drafted Jaylen Brown, and signed Al Horford to a max contract less than a month after. A year later, they drafted Jayson Tatum, and signed Gordon Hayward to a max contract. A month later, they traded for Kyrie Irving.
Those five players may not all start, but they are, without a doubt, a tremendous reason for Boston’s success. Each of those moves has led the team to this very postseason moment, and it’s not safe to count out the Celtics. Let’s take a look at five reasons why it could all come together over the next few weeks.
Gordon Hayward is looking like the old Gordon Hayward
Nineteen months ago, Gordon Hayward broke his leg five minutes and 15 seconds into his Boston Celtics career, and it has been a long, grueling process to get back to the player he was.
The player that Danny Ainge signed to a four-year, $128 million contract during the summer of 2017.
That Gordon Hayward is coming, and he’s coming for everyone who doubted him. As he’s stated multiple times it will take time for him to get him back to the all-star forward he was during his final years in Utah.
Don’t look now, but we may see that version of him before Boston’s season ends. Frankly, if we see that version, their season won’t end until the NBA Finals.
He’s no longer just settling for the contested jumpers or the signature stepback that he has hit so many shots with. After losing two years of his prime, Hayward is displaying exceptional confidence in his abilities to drive to the basket. He’s no longer a wildcard for Brad Stevens to find an answer to an offense that, only a few months ago, didn’t have an identity.
In their first-round sweep of Indiana, the Celtics know that Hayward was the key guy in the Game 4 win. His 20 points on an efficient 7-9 shooting and 3-3 from 3-point are just what the stats tell us. But there was more to the former Butler star’s performance that set Sunday apart from any other game this year: he wasn’t nervous about his left leg.
If he continues to progress this way and becomes more comfortable, the ceiling may be beyond the one he set at the end of the 2016-17 season, the best of his career thus far.