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Putting too much stock in the first couple weeks of the NBA season falls under the proceed-with-caution umbrella.
Still, it’s hard for Celtics Nation to not feel that we’re witnessing the genesis of a special kind of season for the C's, who extended their winning streak to six following a 108-87 win over the Charlotte Hornets.
The victory not only extended their streak but also improved them to 6-1, tops in the Eastern Conference.
It’s still early, of course.
And just as the Celtics steamrolled their way towards six consecutive wins, that momentum and positive energy could easily go south.
But this team has come into the season with an even-keeled, handle-your-business-and-keep-it-moving swagger that has shown no cracks even as they deal with one injury after another.
And when they’re not popping guys in and out of the rotation, they are welcoming guys back to the mix, which creates another type of challenge that coach Brad Stevens would gladly accept.
Regardless of the challenge, the opponent or whatever else might be going on or off the court, this team seems as locked in as any Stevens team we’ve seen when it comes to being the best version of themselves on the floor.
Here are three takeaways from the win at Charlotte:
After a near-perfect scoring night at Cleveland on Tuesday, Gordon Hayward delivered yet another strong all-around performance. And while Hayward continues to get questions about whether he’s back from a brutal injury two years ago, the 6-foot-8 wing is well past such inquiries. Instead, the question he needs to be asked more now is whether he’s better now than he was prior to arriving in Boston. Against the Hornets, he tallied a double-double of 20 points (on 9-for-16 shooting) along with 10 rebounds and six assists without a single turnover. Hayward will be challenged to continue his red-hot shooting ways at San Antonio on Saturday when the Spurs will surely look to minimize his impact, which has been exceptional lately.
The emotions for Walker being back in Charlotte would have been an easy explanation for his first-half struggles. But here’s the thing: Kemba has struggled with his shooting in the first half of most of this season only to bounce back with a strong performance and finish with a more-than-respectable final tally. He finished with 14 points and six assists. Now that he has the return game out of the way, look for Walker to be more like himself as the Celtics move on to San Antonio.
After missing the previous three games with an illness and later an infection, it wasn’t clear how much - if at all - Brown would play against the Hornets. Not only did Brown suit up, but he wound up playing more minutes (33) than any other Celtic, tallying 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting while doing a solid job defensively on all the Charlotte players he wound up defending, which included ex-Celtic Terry Rozier, who missed 10 of his 11 shot attempts. Boston will try and close out their three-game trip at San Antonio, which will be led by DeMar DeRozan, whose mid-range shooting game will be tough for the Celtics to slow down. Having a healthy Brown back will help.
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