Celtics-Timberwolves Takeaways: Gordon Hayward continues to own Timberwolves

Celtics-Timberwolves Takeaways: Gordon Hayward continues to own Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS -- Gordon Hayward isn’t all that different than most NBA players who, for whatever reason, seem to play some of their best basketball against certain teams. 

For Hayward, that would be the Minnesota Timberpups, who once again had no answer for what has been an unquestioned dominance he has had over this franchise for years in Boston’s 127-117 win.

He led the Celtics with 29 points on an efficient 12-for-17 shooting along with five rebounds and six assists. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

It was the fourth straight time Hayward has scored at least 29 points against Minnesota (three with Boston, one with Utah).

And while Boston and Minnesota may be hundreds of miles apart in terms of geography and wins, the Timberwolves were neck-and-neck with the Celtics in the second half on Friday. 

The Celtics spent most of the game playing with a lead, but the Timberpups played a scrappy brand of basketball that kept them within striking distance down the stretch. 

And that lead that Boston was milking, was heavily aided by the scoring of Hayward.

It didn’t matter who Minnesota tried to match up on him defensively. 

Hayward was getting to whatever spot he wanted to, when he wanted to get there. 

But the Celtics found themselves having a much tougher go of things when it came to putting the Timberwolves away following a jumper by rookie Jordan McLaughlin that cut Boston’s lead to 100-98 with 8:56 to play. 

But the Celtics continued to play with a lead, slimmer than it was earlier in the game, before putting the game away for the victory. 


With Kemba Walker (left knee) out, it was a given that Jayson Tatum would be looked upon to be more of an offensive force than usual. He did his part for most of Friday’s game against the Timberpups, finishing with 28 points on 8-for-21 shooting from the field to go with 11 rebounds.

But more than the points scored, the ease at which Tatum got to anywhere he wanted to all game long was a reminder of just how talented the 21-year-old is now, and how vast his potential going forward is for the Celtics.

At one point in the third quarter, Tatum seemed to get sidetracked by a back-and-forth exchange with Minnesota’s James Johnson who moments later, blocked a Tatum 3-pointer and had an uncontested dunk if not for him committing a double-dribble violation. 

He would soon regain his composure, but it should serve as a cautionary for the 21-year-old Tatum who is now an All-Star and with that, a bigger target for guys trying to throw him off his game. 

He showed that cool-under-pressure demeanor in the final minutes with a deep 3-pointer to push Boston’s lead to 119-111 with just under four minutes to play. 

Click here to listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast:


The Timberwolves added a handful of new guys to their roster at the trade deadline, a group headlined by former All-Star D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley. 

No surprise, with a new team and a new, more prominent role for both players, they didn’t waste much time making an impact on the game and more important, giving the Celtics problems. 

Russell had 18 points on 5-for-14 shooting while Beasley led all Timberwolves players with 27 points on 10-for-18 shooting. 

The Celtics need to get used to this because they will be seeing quite a few teams in the coming weeks who will have a new look courtesy of deadline acquisitions. 


Playing good defense, rebounding and throwing in an occasional basket here and there has been what Daniel Theis has been about this season. 

But he was much more than that on Friday night, tallying a career-high 25 points along with grabbing 16 rebounds for his fifth double-double this season.

His activity around the glass will be vital looking ahead, especially as his value continues to rise and backup Enes Kanter’s role continues to be sporadic at best. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Lakers, which begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Who are the best point guards in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10

Who are the best point guards in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10

It's no surprise that the Boston Celtics, the team that has won more championships than any other — 17 — also has an incredible list of point guards that have taken the floor over the franchise's storied history.

Their most famous floor general, Bob Cousy, helped the Celtics to their first six titles, but some of the best point guards in team history have taken the floor more recently.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

Much more recently, in fact. Brad Stevens has only been Boston's head coach since 2013, but he has coached four different All-Star point guards in that time.

Some of the team's best point guards have even gone on to success in the Celtics front office and on the sidelines. 

So from Cooz to Kemba, DJ to Jo Jo, these are the best point guards in Celtics history.

Click here for Chris Forsberg's Top 10.

Why isn't Gordon Hayward participating in players' NBA 2K tournament?

Why isn't Gordon Hayward participating in players' NBA 2K tournament?

When a report surfaced Monday night that the NBA is launching an NBA 2K tournament pitting players against each other, Boston Celtics fans all had the same thought:

Gordon Hayward isn't just going to participate in this. He's going to dominate it.

The Celtics forward, after all, is probably the NBA's most avid video gamer, with his own sponsor (HyperX Gaming) and numerous blog posts about his love for gaming.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

But when ESPN's "The Boardroom" revealed the 16 players who will compete in the tournament Tuesday, Hayward was nowhere to be found.

What gives? Does No. 1 overall seed Kevin Durant have a vendetta against Hayward? Is Hayward too good to concern himself with these casual gamers?

In all likelihood, there's a simpler answer: Hayward doesn't really play 2K -- or any sports video game, for that matter.

Here's Hayward in a 2011 interview with ESPN:

"The one thing I've never been into are the sports games. I don't know, I just don't like playing those as much. I bought 'NBA 2K11' just to see myself. It was creepily similar and it's cool to say that you're in a video game, but I'm just not into it that much. I'm more into first-person shooters and real-time strategy games."

That's still the case today, apparently. Hayward lists seven "favorite games" on his HyperX Gaming page, and only one of them (FIFA) is sports-related: Fortnite, League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, FIFA, Destiny and Clash Royale.

In that context, it's obvious why Hayward wasn't one of the 16 competitors selected, especially considering how many other players are obsessed with 2K.

That said, we would have liked to see at least one Celtic make the cut here; after all, Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum both starred in a trailer for NBA 2K20 last August.

The tournament kicks off this Friday on ESPN, giving sports fans at least something to watch (aside from "Classic Celtics," of course) while the NBA is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast: