Celtics

MacMullan: The Celtics 'force feeding' Gordon Hayward was the start of their chemistry issues

MacMullan: The Celtics 'force feeding' Gordon Hayward was the start of their chemistry issues

Kyrie Irving's leadership? Young players not accepting their reduced roles? Not trading for Kawhi Leonard?

Everyone has their take on what really gave the Celtics the most problems during the 2018-19 season, and Jackie MacMullan shared her thoughts on Arbella Early Edition Tuesday night. She cited Brad Stevens 'force feeding' Gordon Hayward to help him come back from his gruesome ankle injury as what started the Celtics' chemistry issues that seemingly plagued the team all year long. 

"You hate to pick on Gordon Hayward because he was coming back from injury and he was doing the best he could, but I really think that’s where it started," she said. "They were force feeding him on his teammates, Brad [Stevens] knew Gordon well, he wanted to get his confidence back.

"I would contend that Brad Stevens would have done that for any player on that roster that had a catastrophic injury, he would want to fill him with that same confidence, but that’s not what happened," MacMullan continued. "He gave the benefit of the doubt over and over to a player that wasn’t ready, to a guy who had history with him, and it rankled that locker room, and it bothered that locker room."

The younger players on the Celtics roster didn't have much of a chance to get a glimpse of how good Hayward was before he fractured his ankle five minutes into his Celtics debut. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown stepped up in a huge way to help Irving lead the Celtics to the second seed in the East, and when Irving was lost for the season just a month before the playoffs began, Brown, Tatum and Terry Rozier went on a run to Game 7of the Eastern Conference Finals. 

It doesn't matter who you are, taking a back seat to someone you think you've shown you're at least at the same level as is difficult to do. And as MacMullan explains, it can lead to conclusions about the motives of someone like Stevens who's calling the shots. 

"I think [the other players] drew conclusions that probably weren’t even fair or accurate, but it doesn’t matter," she said. "If you feel that way, then it’s real."

Now the Celtics are tasked with picking up the pieces from the aftermath of a disaster season. Irving is likely gone, and now it looks like Al Horford is going to sign elsewhere once free agency begins on June 30. 

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Celtics get swimming lessons from Olympic medalists Cullen Jones, Elizabeth Beisel

Celtics get swimming lessons from Olympic medalists Cullen Jones, Elizabeth Beisel

Sunday was an eventful off-day for several of the Boston Celtics' stars, who got to hang with some of the finest American swimmers we'll see this summer in Tokyo.

Kemba Walker got some schwag from Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones and Elizabeth Beisel:

 

Elsewhere, Grant Williams got in the pool and took some lessons:

The swimmers teamed up with the Celtics to encourage more youths to pick up swimming. The benefits, as Williams explained, are manifold:

"It’s not only about learning a skill, but it’s just fun. I enjoyed being in the water," Williams said. "It felt pretty cool to be able to say you know how to swim, and it’s a workout. Some people hate lifting weights. Some people hate running. Swimming is one of those things that gets your whole body into it — your arms, your legs — and you’re breathing, so I think it not only allows you to live longer, but look a little bit better as you get up there in age."

Even Danny Ainge was getting in on the fun . . .

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Jaylen Brown (thumb) and Kemba Walker (knee) questionable for Celtics vs. Lakers

Jaylen Brown (thumb) and Kemba Walker (knee) questionable for Celtics vs. Lakers

The Boston Celtics are going to be facing a tough task on Monday afternoon as they look to snap a three-game losing streak. They'll be taking on the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers in the Lakers' only trip to Boston of the regular season.

But in the game, the Celtics may be down a few key players.

According to the team's official Twitter account, both Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker are questionable for the game while Robert Williams will once again be out with a hip injury.

Brown has missed the last two games, both losses, with a thumb injury while Walker missed Saturday night's loss to the Suns with a sore right knee. The team would probably like to get at least one of them back given their recent struggles (2-6 in their past eight games).

Brown has averaged 20 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game this season for the Celtics and is shooting an efficient 49.2 percent from the field. Walker, meanwhile, is the team's leading scorer and he has averaged 22.1 points per game to go along with a team-high 4.9 assist per game. If both miss the game, the C's will seriously miss their respective presences. 

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That said, the Celtics could benefit from the Lakers not being at full strength for the contest. They have a couple of key players that will be questionable in the lead-up to the game and that includes Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo, according to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell.

Davis has missed the last five Lakers games with the injury and the fact that he didn't practice on Sunday morning could make him truly questionable for the game. So far this season, Davis is averaging 27.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game for the Lakers and has served as a perfect superstar complement to LeBron James.

As for Rondo, the former Celtic has been a great bench option for the Lakers and is averaging 7.6 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game as the team's sixth man. Rondo has missed the past three games with his finger injury and it remains to be seen if he'll be ready to return in front of the TD Garden crowd.

We'll have more updates on these players as tip-off for Monday night's game draws nearer.

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