CLEVELAND – The Boston Celtics have moved well past silver linings when it comes to losing games. Regardless of the circumstances, they came up short, 102-99, to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the season opener for both teams.
There were several players for both teams that played well, giving their respective clubs a shot at victory. But their play took a back seat to the story of the night which was Boston’s Gordon Hayward suffering a left ankle injury just five minutes into the game.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Hayward suffered a dislocated ankle and a fractured tibia, with surgery slated for Wednesday.
“It’s a tough deal,” Stevens said. “But that’s part of it, the risk of injury.”
Such a gruesome injury certainly affects the Celtics, but its impact was felt in the Cavs locker room as well.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to Gordon and his family,” said LeBron James. “Hope for a speedy recovery and a healthy recovery.”
Dwyane Wade had similar sentiments for Hayward.
“This is a competitive game. We all compete,” Wade said. “But it’s a brotherhood at the end of the day and no one wants to see that at all, so our prayers go out to them for a great recovery for him.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Cleveland’s 102-99 win over Boston.
Despite being a game-time decision, James shook off whatever ankle issues he had leading up to tip-off, and delivered down the stretch once again. He would finish with a near triple-double which included a game-high 29 points along with 16 rebounds (also a game-high) and nine assists.
The second-year forward stepped up for the Celtics when Hayward went down, finishing with a career-high 25 points along with six rebounds and three steals.
He scored 15 points, but his 3-pointer from the corner with less than a minute to play would prove to be the game-winner for the Cavaliers. In addition to his scoring, he also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Making his first NBA start, Tatum finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds and in doing so, became the first Celtics rookie since Larry Bird to tally a double-double in his first NBA game.
He didn’t shoot the ball well but hit some timely shots when it mattered, among them being a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter that gave Cleveland a 72-71 lead. He would finish with 14 points and 4 rebounds along with two assists.
It’s early. I get it. But both teams, if they’re going to be the last teams standing, have to do better. Boston was 8-for-32 from 3-point range (25 percent) and the Cavs were even worst, shooting 22.7 percent on 5-for-22 from 3-point range.