Hayward: Pierce festivities 'one of the reason I chose to come to Boston'

Hayward: Pierce festivities 'one of the reason I chose to come to Boston'

BOSTON – We haven’t seen much of Gordon Hayward lately, in large part because he was out West continuing his rehabilitation following his dislocated left ankle injury suffered in the season opener.

He was at the TD Garden on Sunday for the same reason most were there – to witness Paul Pierce’s jersey No. 34 being retired and raised to the rafters.

The impact of Pierce on other players is long and expansive, with Hayward being among them.

In fact, the successful era that Pierce helped usher in was among the factors Hayward weighed in his decision to leave Utah after seven years and sign a four-year, $127.8 million deal with Boston last summer.

“It’s one of the reasons I chose to come to Boston, the tradition,” Hayward told NBC Sports Boston. “The success, the excellence they’ve always had. The teams he has been on has been a part of...I wanted to be part of that success and make some myself.”

Hayward vividly recalled his rookie season with the Jazz when he found himself matched up against Pierce, a player he said he had a tremendous amount of respect for in part because of the way Pierce went about impacting the game.

“He’s a guy that as a young player in this league, I looked up to because of the skill he possessed and a guy that wasn’t the most athletic person but could get anywhere he wanted to on the floor, get his shot off anytime,” Hayward said. “Just somebody that meant a lot to me.”

One of Hayward’s early challenges was getting past the admiration he had for players like Pierce he had seen on TV and just play the game.

“It was overwhelming at first going against all the guys that you’re used to seeing on TV,” Hayward said. “You grow up watching them and then now you actually have to guard them. They’re a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger than you think they are. It was fun.”

And now Hayward finds himself part of that same Celtic lineage, trying to do what Pierce and all those before him have sought out as a Boston Celtic – win an NBA title.

Pierce got his in 2008, a decade after he fell into the Celtics lap on draft night with the No. 10 pick despite being projected to be a top-five lock.

While it’s not something that’s talked about often, Hayward is well aware that the standards for success in Boston involve winning it all, which is a different kind of pressure that’s not the norm throughout most NBA franchises.

“You feel a little bit of responsibility on your shoulders,” Hayward admitted. “It’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here, to have some of that responsibility to continue that success.”



Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

File Photo

Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

There hasn't been all positive news surrounding Gordon Hayward as of late.

The Celtics have been shooting down rumors of Hayward returning this season. Recent news has detailed a minor setback in his recovery.

But it's always good to see the C's superstar up early crushing a workout in the weightroom.

We might not see him back in 2018, but his dedication during recovery is something to admire.


Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

AP Photo

Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

It seems all season we’ve talked about the Boston Celtics overcoming adversity, whether it be a bad injury to a key player or a blown assignment leading to a loss.

Nowhere is this more apparent than their play on the road this season which ranks among the best in the NBA.

The Celtics will look to continue on their road warrior-like ways tonight at New Orleans, a team that’s fighting for playoff position in the tighter-than-usual Western Conference.

In recent years, the terrain has been rough for teams from the East venturing into Western Conference territory.

For this year’s Celtics?

Not so much.

Boston comes into tonight’s game with a 17-7 record against Western Conference teams, tops among all teams in the East.

And while Boston has eight road games left this season, they are on pace to finish with one of the best road records in franchise history.

Currently 24-9 away from the TD Garden (tops in the East, third overall in the NBA), that’s a winning percentage of .727 which is the fourth-highest in franchise history.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on when the Boston Celtics take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.


It’s a given that Al Horford will spend time defending Anthony Davis tonight. And while Davis will likely have a strong night scoring the ball, you can count on Horford making it extremely tough on him. When the two teams met on Jan. 16, Davis was 8-for-19 shooting for 16 points in 52 possessions when defended by Horford. For the game, Davis had 45 points on 16-for-34 shooting.


We’ve seen “Playoff" Rondo and “National TV" Rondo deliver some impressive performances in the past. What will we see from “Well-Rested” Rondo? The Pelicans gave the ex-Celtic the night off on Saturday as to not play him in back-to-back games. Of the two games, it made sense to sit him against the Rockets and have him ready to roll against a Boston Celtics team that will not have its full complement of players available.


Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had some choice words about the officiating in New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday that he clearly felt cost his team a better chance at winning. The only cost in play now is how big will the check be that he’ll pay the league for his comments about the officiating. His issue was that Anthony Davis doesn’t get enough calls based on the physical abuse he takes per game. Davis ranks fourth in the NBA in free throw attempts (7.8) per game, but only had four attempts against the Rockets. It’ll be worth watching whether the Pelicans, 16th in the league in free throw attempts (21.4) per game, will get to the line significantly more or less than their season average.


One of the keys to Boston’s improved play since returning to the floor since the all-star break, has been their ability to begin games with strong play. Boston has outscored their opponent in the first quarter each of the last eight games, and 10 of 11. In addition, Boston has been ahead at the half in each of their 10 games since the all-star break, which comes on the heels of trailing at the half in the seven games prior to the break.


Jayson Tatum has been one of the most impactful rookies in the NBA this season which will likely land him a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie first or second team. One of the strengths of Tatum has been his durability, evident by him being one of just two first-year players to appear in each of his team’s games played this season. He is joined by Memphis’ Dillon Brooks.