Celtics

'Hungry' Gordon Hayward looking 'stronger, faster, leaner' in Celtics workouts

'Hungry' Gordon Hayward looking 'stronger, faster, leaner' in Celtics workouts

BOSTON — Boston Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison said Gordon Hayward has been in the gym every day for the past six weeks, taking advantage of the offseason that evaded him last year when Hayward was recovering from a second ankle surgery.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has been fueling the Hayward offseason hype train in recent weeks and Morrison confirmed the encouraging early returns.

"Gordon looks great,” said Morrison, who is coaching the team’s summer squad this year but also works with Hayward during his morning workouts. "This will be the fifth or sixth week we’ve been going every day. We’ve got a pretty intense weight program three or four days a week; he’s on the court five days a week. 

"He’s getting stronger, getting faster, getting leaner, and, from a basketball perspective, it’s hard to test things like that, but I think he looks pretty good. His shot and ball-handling is a lot crisper. He’s just hungry to get better. I don’t want to speak for him but I’m very happy with the effort and progress that he’s putting in.”

Hayward underwent a follow-up surgery on his injured ankle in late May 2018 to remove plate and screws that had been inserted in his fractured fibula after his opening-night injury. That recovery sapped two months of basketball activities for Hayward and he always looked like he was still playing catchup for much of the 2018-19 season.

After some promising glimpses late last season and in the first round against the Pacers, there is hope that Hayward can be an even more consistent presence for the Celtics next season. It might ultimately be one of the keys if this team hopes to remain competitive despite their offseason defections.

"I think Gordon is going to have a great year. He's putting in as much work as anybody and we get to see it,” Ainge said last month. "I mean, he's here a lot. I'm very excited for Gordon's upcoming year.”

Previously, Ainge noted, "I’m really excited for Gordon’s upcoming season. He’s working hard right now in the gym. He’s here every day with five or six coaches and bodies out there working extremely hard. He’s put a lot of time in. I’m anticipating great things from Gordon this next year.”

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Celtics-Heat simulation: C's dominate in Eastern Conference showdown

Celtics-Heat simulation: C's dominate in Eastern Conference showdown

The NBA season has been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis, meaning we may have to wait until mid-April at the earliest to watch the Boston Celtics again.

As a way to make up for the loss of Celtics action, we'll be using the NBA 2K20 video game to simulate each game on the schedule until they finally return.

PREVIOUS FIVE SIMULATIONS

The Celtics were supposed to be taking on the Miami Heat on Wednesday in an Eastern Conference showdown. Here's how our simulation of the marquee matchup went:

CELTICS STATS

If you've been paying any sort of attention to these simulations the past couple of weeks, you've noticed that Kemba Walker has been on an absolute tear offensively. That didn't change Wednesday, as he dropped a game-high 32 points to lead the way in the C's blowout win.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, a.k.a. "Fire and Ice," continued their strong offensive output with 27 and 21 points respectively. Tatum was a force on the defensive end as well, notching nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

With the game in hand, Boston's reserves played for nearly the entire fourth quarter. Brad Wanamaker and Vincent Poirier tallied seven points each off the bench.

HEAT STATS

Four Heat players scored in double figures, but it still wasn't enough to keep up with the Celtics. Jimmy Butler led Miami with 21 points, though he struggled from the field going just 7-for-21 shooting. Kendrick Nunn was far more efficient, going 6-for-13 and finishing with 19.

TEAM STATS

This game really wasn't close at any point, and in these sims, the C's have established themselves as the clear superior Eastern Conference squad. The biggest takeaways from the list of stats above are Boston's defensive prowess (12 steals, seven blocks), and dominance in the paint (54 points).

FINAL SCORE: Celtics 119, Heat 98

Make that nine wins in a row for the unstoppable NBA 2K Celtics. Can they keep it going? Tune in Friday for their next matchup vs. the Orlando Magic and find out.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Isaiah Thomas recalls ending Warriors' home streak, ready for another comeback

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Celtics Talk Podcast: Isaiah Thomas recalls ending Warriors' home streak, ready for another comeback

In the latest edition of the Celtics Talk Podcast, Isaiah Thomas looks back at one of his signature victories as the C's point guard when Boston came into Oracle Arena, where the Golden State Warriors have won 54 in a row, and upset the defending NBA champions.

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It happened four years ago, April 1, 2016, and Thomas vividly recalled a victory that put Brad Stevens' up-and-coming Celtics, who would go on to win 48 games and reach the Eastern Conference Finals that season, on the map.

We were treating it like a must-win, knowing everything that was at stake for the Warriors, Thomas told A. Sherrod Blakely. "That year … they were unstoppable. We knew how hard it was to win in Golden State because of how great their fan base is. Not only that, how great a team they were. We went in like it was a must-win.

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Thomas said that win made the league take notice of not only the Celtics, but himself as well. 

Nobody thought we would be what we were. Nobody thought I would be what I was...Everybody on that team showed a lot of people that we were good enough to be a really good team and individually, we had really good players that to this day are showing what they're capable of doing.

Injuries have kept Thomas, now 31, from reaching the level he enjoyed with the Celtics and he's again looking for a team after he was waived by the Los Angeles Clippers after being dealt there by the Washington Wizards at the trade deadline. Still, his signature confidence hasn't waned. 

I got a lot left in the tank. I know what I can do. I'm never going to sugar coat it. I'm one of the best players in the world if given the opportunity.

And could that come in again in Boston next season?

You never know," he told Blakely. "If given the opportunity, I'd love to come back. I would love to be able to be a part of what the Celtics got going on. Just be able to help. Not come in with any expectations.

Blakely also catches up with ex-Celtics forward Jared Sullinger, who was a part of that 2015-16 team and had a big night in that win over the Warriors (20 points, 12 rebounds). Listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast and view it on YouTube: