Celtics

Blakely: Here's what Gordon Hayward's injury means to the Celtics

Blakely: Here's what Gordon Hayward's injury means to the Celtics

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The season could not have gotten off to a better start for Gordon Hayward. 

He was scoring at a clip we hadn’t seen since his days in Utah. 

His playmaking and rebounding were on a noticeable upswing as well. 

And the team was winning; winning at a level we had not seen under seventh-year coach Brad Stevens.

And just like that, all of the upbeat, optimistic progress Hayward has made was taken away following a broken left hand injury suffered in the first half of Boston’s game against San Antonio on Saturday. 

His injury is without question a setback for the Celtics who came into Saturday’s game with a 6-1 record and sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings. 

Because of his impact on several fronts, Hayward’s injury - likely to keep him out a few weeks - doesn’t hurt the Celtics any more in one statistical category than another. 

But it does deal a blow to the balanced, elite-level play on several fronts that Hayward has been bringing to the table this season, a season in which he has looked to be a better player than he was when the Celtics signed him in 2017. 

A key to Boston’s fast start is the above-average contributions they have gotten from a number of players. 

But of the players on the Celtics roster, Hayward has easily been the biggest surprise of them all. 

The fact that he’s contributing in so many categories isn’t all that surprising. 

But he has been able to do it while still meshing well with teammates Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker who were both expected to shoulder a considerably larger amount of the load than Hayward. 

Hayward is by all accounts Boston’s No. 3 option behind Walker and Tatum. 

And yet he’s delivering face-of-the-franchise production when you look at his scoring (20.3 points per game) in addition to delivering 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists while connecting on 56.4 percent of his shots from the field and 44.4 percent of his 3-point attempts. 

Replacing that kind of production won’t be easy, particularly when it comes within the flow of the offense and not necessarily from a ton of plays being called for him. 

His absence will put a greater burden of producing on the shoulders of Walker and Tatum, in addition to increasing the need for Marcus Smart to step up and impact the game more along the lines of a two-way player rather than a defensive stopper who gets a few points here and there. 

But as we’ve seen already this season, the Celtics are a team whose strength lies more in their collective sum than any individual parts. 

That will be put to the test for however long they will be without Hayward, providing yet another challenge for a Celtics team that thus far this season, has shown the ability to meet time and time again. 

MORE BLAKELY: Is Hayward as good as he's ever been?>>>

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Enes Kanter endorses former teammate, Rudy Gobert, for NBA All-Star Game

Enes Kanter endorses former teammate, Rudy Gobert, for NBA All-Star Game

Enes Kanter has been nothing but supportive of his Boston Celtics teammates since joining the squad this summer.

Whether it's been mentoring Tacko Fall or advocating for his young teammates Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to make the All-Star Game, Kanter has had an impact on the C's

And evidently, Kanter's support even extends to former teammates..

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On Saturday night, Kanter took to Twitter to implore NBA coaches to pick Rudy Gobert for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. Kanter and Gobert were teammates for a season and a half together with the Utah Jazz before Kanter was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Gobert's performance against the Dallas Mavericks prompted Kanter's tweet. In the Saturday contest, Gobert totaled 22 points, 17 boards, and five blocks, including a game-winning one at the end of regulation.

Despite his defensive prowess, Gobert has never made an All-Star appearance. He has two Defensive Player of the Year awards and two All-NBA nods, but the All-Star appearance has eluded him.

Given that Gobert is averaging 15.6 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per game, and is shooting 68.3 percent from the field, it probably should be his year to make it. We'll see if Kanter's tweet has any influence on the minds of the coaches voting for All-Star reserves.

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How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws vs. Westchester Knicks

How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws vs. Westchester Knicks

The Maine Red Claws came into the Westchester County Center Saturday night looking to extend their win streak to three. No strangers to furious late-game rallies of late, Maine got another such scare just when things were looking comfy. 

The Westchester Knicks seized control in the fourth quarter, using a 14-2 run to take a 97-94 lead with six minutes to go. But that momentum was short-lived. Sparked by a three-pointer from 2019 second-round pick Tremont Waters, the Claws closed the game out on a 16-6 run to give them their 10th win in 11 games.

Here's a look at Waters and 2019 first-round pick Romeo Langford’s best highlights, and their final stat lines.

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TREMONT WATERS

As usual, the rookie from LSU — who grew up in New Haven, just an hour north of the Knicks’ arena in White Plains, N.Y. — was one of Maine’s steadiest. With an effective field goal percentage of 63 and a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, he took command when the Claws needed him most. He finished with 21 points and six rebounds, all of them defensive.

ROMEO LANGFORD

It wasn’t a pretty night for Langford, who started the evening 2 for 10 from the floor and finished 33 percent shooting for 14 points. But despite the lack of stat sheet appeal, he was a team-high plus-14 in 33 minutes.

After Waters, the two most productive nights belonged to Yante Maten and Kaiser Gates. Maten, the former SEC Player of the Year at Georgia, was 8 for 12 from the floor for a team-high 23 points and nine rebounds despite being a team-worst minus-6. Gates was 3 for 8 from three-point range and a plus-10, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds.

The Red Claws are now 8-1 in January, good enough for second in the G League’s Eastern Conference. Optimism continues to bloom with this young but talented roster.

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