Celtics

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. 

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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. 

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Bleacher Report puts Jayson Tatum on 'overhyped' list

Bleacher Report puts Jayson Tatum on 'overhyped' list

Bleacher Report ran a piece Tuesday listing the NBA's five "most overhyped players" entering the coming season. Jayson Tatum leads the list. Hold me back. 

These pieces are obviously subjective as hell, as they rely on "people probably think X," which may or may not be the reality of the situation. In the case of Tatum, writer Grant Hughes acknowledges that he feels Tatum is a franchise player, but that he could be a victim of the team for which he plays. 

Writes Hughes

Kyrie Irving has never been one to take a backseat, and with him back on the floor, it'll be much harder for Tatum to build on his postseason takeover. Throw Gordon Hayward into the mix, and there will be even fewer touches for the 20-year-old wing. And that's to say nothing of Jaylen Brown, who's a superior defender at the moment and averaged 18 points per game in the playoffs on more efficient shooting than Tatum managed. He's due for an increased role as well.

C's fans can first breathe at the fact that Hughes most certainly is not calling Tatum overrated. Then, if they're rational, they can wonder whether Hughes has a point. 

Tatum's five best scoring games of the regular season came with Kyrie out of the lineup, one of which was prior to Irving being shut down for the season. He obviously went on to average over four and a half points more in the postseason without Irving (18.5) than he did in the regular season (13.9). 

No, Tatum is not going to be the Celtics' top scorer this season. He also won't be a rookie again. Dude looked like he tacked on like 80 pounds of muscle like a month after the season ended. He's been in gyms destroying everyone from Joel Embiid to a hilarious assortment of camp-going children. He's out here mentoring Kobe

Even if Brad Stevens wants to get creative and have Tatum come off the bench (that doesn't need to happen; he can start the five best players), Tatum is a lethal enough offensive player to put up 20 a night. 

But back to the idea of him being overhyped. I don't think anyone's putting the kid in the MVP conversation. They probably just saw the third overall pick have a really good rookie year and figure that he'll continue to blossom into a star, if he isn't one already. 

The other players listed in the piece were DeMarcus Cousins, Zach LaVine, Josh Jackson and Kawhi Leonard. Leonard falls into the rule of thumb that if you're one of the five best players in the league, as Kawhi is, it's really easy for people to overhype you. That's not Leonard's fault. 

But the other guys? Who the heck is hyping -- let alone overhyping -- Zach LaVine? The only time Zach LaVine made headlines this summer was when he was given an offersheet by the Kings that most felt was too much and the Bulls matched it. Everyone thinks he's a stinky defensive player who's coming off an ACL injury. Unless there's some expectation that he's going to start averaging six or seven more points a night than he ever has, he isn't being overhyped. He's just overpaid. 

The Cousins pick could very well be fair. As Hughes writes, Boogie is a "luxury, not a game-changer for the Warriors." It's very possible that his impact on the Warriors won't be as significant as the league fears. Maybe he takes longer than expected to come back. Maybe when he does come back, he proves to be a divisive player with that group. Then again, maybe he gives them 25 and 12 a night and the Warriors go undefeated in the postseason. 

Selling Jackson as overhyped is tough. He's a second-year player who finished his rookie year on fire, including a 36-point performance against the Warriors. He sure as hell won't average 22.6 points like he did over his last 10 games as a rookie, but does anyone think he will? Nobody thinks he's a great shooter, but it's reasonable to expect something approaching the 18.7 he averaged post All-Star break, plus his usual strong defending.

Anyway, this Hughes fellow should have put Ben Simmons on the list. Guy never shoots threes. 

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Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Remember those rumors of Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler teaming up in free agency next year? Well, that buzz is back and Boston isn't the rumored destination.

Two league sources told Business Insider that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets could be well-positioned to land the two players, with one source saying the chatter is "substantial."

"It wouldn't surprise me if either New York team or potentially both New York teams hit it big next summer," one source said.

That echoes a Chicago Sun-Times report from July which said the Celtics and Timberwolves stars had been talking about how they could team up. Each player can opt out after this season and Irving has made it known he'll be heading to free agency. The Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around for a while. 

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