A. Sherrod Blakely's Takeaways: Hayward's offense, Smart's defense stand out


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No one would have blamed Kemba Walker if he were looking past the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

The Cavs are pegged by many as being one of the worst teams in the NBA, making anything less than a blowout look as though it was a disappointment. 

But the Celtics know the degree of difficulty when it comes to winning increases the more times you play a team.

So they weren’t the least bit surprised at how well Cleveland played before Boston squeaked out a 116-113 

And after tonight, Walker returns to Charlotte, the only basketball home he knew prior to a sign-and-trade this summer that sent him to Boston and with that, opened a portal of possibilities for him. 

Here’s a look at three takeaways to come out of Boston’s 119-113 win 

Hayward erupts: There will be some who see Gordon Hayward’s monster game against the Cavaliers as vehicle to drive the “He’s really back now” narrative.  There’s no mistaking that Hayward was on top of his game against the Cavaliers, leading all scorers with 39 points. More than that, Hayward is showing the kind of all-around game that folks in Boston have not been afforded an opportunity to see on a more consistent basis as he tallied eight rebounds and seven assists to go with his season-high scoring performance. 

Smart versatility: No matter how many times I’ve seen it, the idea of Marcus Smart defending power forwards/centers like Kevin Love just doesn’t seem right. And then you see Smart coming up with a blocked shot on Kevin Love who is several inches taller. Later, Smart deflected a pass into the post that results in a turnover. 

Carsen cashin’ in: It has been a rough start to the season for rookie Carsen Edwards, who has struggled mightily with his shot. But he’s too good a shooter to stay in a funk for too long. He delivered the kind of performance he and the Celtics will need more of going forward as Edwards finished with 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting. 

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