Bean: With Warriors on tap, I finally miss Gordon Hayward

Bean: With Warriors on tap, I finally miss Gordon Hayward

Kyrie. KD. Steph. Goatford. Draymond. President Jaylen. 2018 NBA Finals MVP Jayson Tatum. So many stars will play Thursday night. 

Yet I’m thinking about Gordon Hayward. For the first time since the shock of his disgusting ankle injury wore off, I’m actually pissed the Celtics don’t have him. 

This, of course, is all about the Warriors game. Thursday night matches the best team in the East against the best team in the, well, world. Both teams will be on lengthy win streaks, and it will be impossible to pick who should be gunning for whom more: the hottest team in the league trying to beat the defending champions or the defending champions trying to shut up the NBA’s hot new thing. Either way, it doesn’t quite feel the same without the Celtics being able to throw absolutely everything they have at Golden State. 


If that sounds like an excuse, it is. The Warriors didn’t cry about not having Kevin Durant when the Celtics beat them last year because the Warriors are the better team. Durant not being there was part of what made the game winnable for the Celtics. 

But if Golden State ekes out a 101-96 win Thursday night at the Garden? You bet your bippy I’ll be whining about Hayward. So should you. In fact, call up one of the radio shows and join the discussion about how sick the Celtics are going to be next year once they *do* have Hayward, because that conversation will for sure be happening. Adding a scorer who averages 20 points a night to a team that shows it can maybe hang with Golden State? Gahdamn. 

Make no mistake: The magic of this team has in large part been a direct result of Hayward’s absence. Tatum has been a starter and a terrific one at that. Kyrie has had to take over games late by himself. Maybe the latter still happens with Hayward on the floor, but the former certainly doesn’t, and next season’s team will be better for it. 

The immediate returns on Tatum, who would be coming off the bench if Hayward wasn’t lost for the season, have been terrific. The extent of his offensive growing pains have been minimal — really, it’s him not finishing as well at the rim as he probably will. Other than that? Stud city: 14 points a night, 50 percent from the field and 49 percent on threes. Also, dope at rebounding. God, Jayson Tatum rules. 

So, in the weirdest way, the argument could be made that Hayward’s absence has actually made the Celtics more exciting given that such production is coming from a 19-year-old. Yet nobody should mistake an outstanding start to the season as an indication that the Celtics are that much better than we thought they’d be. 

Their path is probably the same as it was: They’ll probably be the No. 1 seed in the East due to Cleveland’s various issues, they’ll reach the Eastern Conference finals and maybe even win. They won’t beat the Warriors in a seven-game series, just like they weren’t going to even if they had Hayward. 

But in a regular-season meeting in mid-November? Thursday will test just how good the NBA’s hottest team actually is. It should be a great game as is. But for a team that has found a way for every night for over a month now, the task of facing the league’s best might finally require Hayward, the player a lot of Celtics fans might not realize how much they miss. 


Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

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Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

© 2018 by The Associated Press