Celtics

A. Sherrod Blakely's Takeaways: Jaylen Brown stars as Celtics win in bittersweet fashion

A. Sherrod Blakely's Takeaways: Jaylen Brown stars as Celtics win in bittersweet fashion

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Mavericks, which tips off Monday at 7:00 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

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It was a bittersweet night for the Boston Celtics following a 135-115 blowout win at San Antonio. 

It was the first time under Brad Stevens that Boston won in San Antonio, but the victory came at a huge cost - Gordon Hayward. 

He scored nine points but suffered a left fractured hand injury in the second quarter that may require surgery.

Losing Hayward impacts the Celtics on so many levels

But after his injury, the Celtics did what we’ve seen them do whenever someone is lost to an injury- they moved on and found a way to win. 

The victory gave Boston its seventh in a row and keeps the Celtics atop the Eastern Conference standings while capping off a three-game road trip with nothing but victories 

Here are three takeaways for the East-leading Celtics following their win over the Spurs.

JAYLEN BROWN 

Even before Hayward’s injury, Brown was well on his way to a strong night before finishing with a season-high 30 points. The illness/infection that kept Brown sidelined is very much a thing of the past now as he returns looking even more impactful than he was earlier. 

For years, Brown has quietly gone about doing a lot of the little things to help the Celtics win, while some of his higher-profile teammates garnered much of the attention. But as you watch Brown now, he looks and acts the part of a player who is ready to be more than just a key contributor but also a difference-maker at both ends of the floor.  

DEFENSE

Much of the talk following Saturday’s game will center around Boston dropping a season-high 135 points on the road against a San Antonio Spurs team that has been a defensive force for years. But the defense Boston played - particularly against the Spurs’ top two players - was far more significant. 

LaMarcus Aldridge, a perennial all-star forward, was a non-factor. The only impact he made that was significant, was him being involved in the broken left hand injury suffered by Boston’s Gordon Hayward. Aldridge finished the game with 3 points on 1-for-4 shooting from the field and a plus/minus of minus-12. And San Antonio point guard Dejounte Murray, one of the most improved players in this still-young NBA season, was held to just four points on 2-for-8 shooting with as many turnovers (4) as assists. Limiting the opposing team’s inside-outside tandem is a good omen for the Celtics who will face one of the best in the NBA on Monday when Kristaps Porzingis and MVP candidate Luka Doncic come to the TD Garden. 

MARCUS SMART

This was yet another game in which Marcus Smart was called upon to pick up the slack, and the veteran guard delivered. He finished with 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting which included 4-for-9 from 3-point range. His defense was strong as ever on Saturday, and they’ll need that going forward with Hayward’s return yet to be determined. 

But Smart’s shooting which continues to fly below the radar even as his percentage steadily rises, has to continue along the path of consistency. We have all seen Smart get jacuzzi-hot from 3-point range in the past. But going forward, Smart has to do a better job of not falling in love with the long ball and instead use his strength and quickness off the dribble to get into the lane and score off the dribble via floater or possible lay-ups. The Dallas Mavericks will surely tempt him to shooting 3’s, but he has to make getting into the paint a priority. Boston came into Saturday’s game with four players averaging at least 10 drive attempts per game with Hayward leading the way. Smart has to pick up where Hayward left off in order for Boston to continue its winning ways. 

MORE BLAKELY: What Gordon Hayward's injury means to the Celtics>>>

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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.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pelicans, which begins Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.