Celtics

A night of Celtics highlights

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A night of Celtics highlights

There are some mornings when you wake up and avoid the TV and Internet like the plague.

When CSNNE, ESPN, NBA TV, Twitter, Facebook andor anything that bears a reminder to the events of the previous night is eliminated from your life. When, even if it's just for one morning, you choose to pretend that sports don't exist. When that's the only way you can get by.

There are other mornings when you wake up and can't get enough. When the first thing you do is hop online or throw on the TV and frantically flip back and forth like a methhead looking for a fix. Highlights, analysis. Highlights, analysis. On these mornings, you want nothing more than to stay at home all day watching the game on a loop, and listening to what anyone and everyone has to say about your team. Even Stephen A. Smith! Even Skip Bayless! You'd even listen to Fidel Cas nah, I'll stop there.

Anyway, this morning was one of those mornings. One of those beautiful mornings, when all you want is more. More highlights, more analysis. When you and last night's game are like Jim Carey and Kate Winslet, running through your mind and hoping the memories never fade. The Celtics beat the Heat last night. They went down to Miami and slugged them in the mouth. And you never want to forget it.

And of all highlights from last night's inspirational win, there was none more inspiring or indicative of everything that's become of this Celtics season than this

A play we'll creatively and affectionately call: Kevin Garnett's baseline up-and-under.

So, first off, Garnett catches the ball on the baseline, about 20 feet from the hoop, looks up and sees Udonis Haslem furiously running out to defend. At this point, Haslems just about made up his mind that KGs going to shoot, and why not? Garnetts been raining down jumpers from that distance all season for the last 17 seasons and over this recent stretch, hes not only hitting his shot but, perhaps more importantly, so willing to take it.

Case in point: With his 14 attempts from the field last night, KG whod typically rather host a tea party for Charlie Villanueva and Joakim Noah than consistently shoot the rock has attempted 10 or more shots in 18 straight games. Thats kind of funny, since it started the same night as Rondos 10 assist streak, but also subtly symbolic.

Why? Because Garnetts 18 straight games with double digit shots is not only his longest streak since 2009, but his longest since the EXACT day of his original injury.

He had 18 straight from January 6 - February 12, 2009. Then on February 19, the first game after the All Star Break, KG took the court in Utah and was well on his way to No. 19, shooting 4-6 in his first 14 minutes of action. In the second quarter, he went up for an alley-oop, landed awkwardly on his left leg and his career changed forever.

Now obviously, there are an infinite number of NBA stats more telling than individual shot attempts, but with KG the category cant be overlooked. For Garnett, a streak such as this is the perfect combination of consistency and confidence probably the two things hes lacked most in the years since his injury. In 2012, both have traits become a staple of Garnett's game and a major reason for his resurgence.

Anyway, so Haslems pretty sure that KGs going to shoot, and runs at him at with a ferocity that says: If he shoots, Ill contest it; if he pump fakes, Im screwed.

In a split second, Garnett recognizes Haslems momentum, and sets his DeLorean for 2008. With a little slight shrug, he watches Haslem fly by, and then explodes to the baseline. He takes two power dribbles towards the basket with his left hand (in recent years, that occurrence alone would be cause for a column) as two Heat players Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers rush to collapse the lane and cut off KG's angle.

In the past, the old KG or let me be more specific, the old old KG wouldve realized their presence and done one of three things:

a) Pick up his dribble, pivot frantically in a circle and kick the ball back out to the perimeter.

b) Stop short of the hoop, absorb Bosh with his backside and initiate a deliberate sequence of post moves that would have resulted in an awkward hook shot or desperate fade away.

c) Pump fake. Hope to get Bosh in the air and maybe draw a foul. If it works? Great. If not? KG's shot would have likely clanged off the rim and ignited a Miami fast break.

Last night, Garnett went with option D.

In one motion, he exploded towards the rim not in a reckless way that was just praying for a bail out foul, but with a purpose. He jumped at an angle that allowed him to perfectly split the two defenders in midair. Then, once he was in the air, a crazy thing happened: He stayed in the air! Long enough to float along the baseline, use the hoop to block any oncoming defender and gracefully flip the ball up from the other side under perfect control, with the perfect amount of English.

He looked back over his head as the ball fell through, didn't break stride and sprinted back on defense. Like he's done so many times in his career; like many of us weren't sure we'd never see again.And really, that's what this all comes to with these Celtics.

Everything they're doing? We've seen it before.

We've seen them stroll into Miami like it's nothing, smack the Heat in the mouth and walk off like they're the kings of the world. We've seen them go on runs against the league's best. We've seen them absorb constant criticisms about their age, effort and chemistry and defiantly flip those criticisms the bird. Over the last four plus seasons, we've seen it all.

But we really never thought we'd see it again.

Where does it go from here?

Who knows?

Things certainly won't get any easier. The Celtics are still walking a tight rope in terms of depth and injury. They've still got along way to go before any of this is actually real, and anyone, especially the 15 or so guys in that locker room are ultimately satisfied. There are still so many questions to be answered, so many chips to fall. But at this very moment, for the first time in a while, what happens next isn't so much of a concern.

Suddenly, the present is as inspiring as the past and as exciting as the future.

Right now, like KG on the baseline, the Celtics are just floating through the air, somewhere between 2008 and reality. We hope they never come down. We know they eventually will. But in the meantime, we're going to enjoy every second.

Now, if you'll excuse me. I've got some highlights watch.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

CLEVELAND – Jayson Tatum has seen plenty of games featuring Cleveland’s LeBron James.

And in the Boston Celtics’ preparation for Tuesday night’s matchup, the 19-year-old rookie had seen plenty of James on film.

But facing him, up close and personal, was something entirely different.

“He’s way bigger than I thought,” Tatum said. “He’s way better than I imagined. That’s the reason why he is who he is.”

MORE:

James’ play was among the key factors in Cleveland handing Boston a 102-99 loss on Tuesday night.

But Tatum showed he too has some big-time potential by finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds which included some nifty drives to the basket as well as showing the ability to hold his own on the glass in terms of rebounding the basketball.

The last Celtics rookie to post a double-double on opening night?

That was Larry Bird back in 1980, helping the Celtics to a 114-106 win over the Houston Rockets.

What’s even crazier?

Bird had 14 points and 10 rebounds in that Rockets game, too.

Tatum’s solid performance didn’t seem in the making in the first half when Tatum had missed all five of his shot attempts while tallying just two points.

But as the Celtics mounted their comeback, Tatum’s play was a key to the team’s improved play.

“Just being more relaxed” was how Tatum described his improved play in the second half.

Tatum added, “first half, I think I was nervous and anxious. And then the game slowed down for me. That helped out a lot.”

And the Celtics will need even more from Tatum going forward after Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that will keep him sidelined indefinitely.

There was plenty of room for him to improve upon following Tuesday’s game.

But for the most part, head coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw from the rookie.

“Jayson was pretty good,” Stevens said. “He did a pretty good job for a first game. That’s pretty hard to do, to be thrown into this environment, first game and play that well.”

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