After what was a pretty lack luster week for the Celtics it finally looked like enough was enough. The Celtics used a long flight to the west coast to fix their problems, according to Kyrie Irving. Well, it definitely seems like whatever they did worked because these last two games have been a big leap from what we have been seeing.
Although the Celtics have began to find a rhythm as a unit we have also seen individuals such as Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward start to look like their old selves again. I wrote about how Hayward was beginning to progress again right about before the All-Star break but let me tell you, I didn’t think I would be seeing him hit the game winner in a back to back after he just dropped 30 in a win over Golden State. But here I am and I couldn’t be more pumped. Not only has Hayward been productive but he has also looked a hell of a lot more comfortable over the past few weeks. In his last 5 games before the break Hayward was averaging 17 ppg, 4.8 assists, and 5.2 rebounds pg while he was shooting .578 from the field. This was the biggest week for Hayward not only because of the production but because of how relaxed he looked, instead of hesitating and giving up the ball he’s been a lot more decisive with looking for his shot and may I just say it, has really been working out for him.
Just in the past two games Hayward went from 30 points against the warriors to only scoring 12 in the win over the kings. Although he wasn’t able to score big in the warriors game it still didn’t stop him from a shooting a solid 6-10 from the field. So Hayward doesn’t always need to be the second option but he is going to have to be reliable in games down the stretch, especially the playoffs. This team has a lot of guys who play well on the offensive side of the ball so putting up 30 a game isn’t too much of a need for Hayward but shooting at a consistent rate is where he is going to have to thrive.
So is it time Hayward re enter the starting lineup? I think yes, if this team wants to be as lethal as we know they can be then Hayward is going to have to play to his full potential. But that starts at working him back into the starting 5 and giving him the time he needs to build up that chemistry they once hoped for at the beginning of the year.
I don’t think you necessarily have to start him right away but why not just give him a feel for it at first. The Celtics will be on the road for another two games before they come back to host the Clippers, Kings, and Hawks but I’m not completely sure if Stevens is going to make any changes as of now. I’m no mind reader so for all I know Hayward could start the next game but starting him at home where he plays best, against two teams he’s found success, just sounds rich to me.
The shot at the end of the Kings game was very big and much needed for Hayward. Not only for himself but for him to feel he’s finally making a difference for the team consistently is a big step up from where we were with him just a couple months ago. That is something he feels he hasn’t been able to do throughout the year so that shot was just a little taste of what’s to come.
Bottom of the line is Hayward is going to have to start at some point, so let him start where he feels the most comfortable and then take it from there. The chemistry with Hayward in along side the starters is going to be a key factor in the playoffs and that is something you want to start early rather than later. It’s not like they’ll be unable to create the chemistry but remember there’s only 17 games left before the playoffs, I’d like to see him start at least 10-12 of those. He may not be back to the old Jazz Hayward but for where he’s at right now, starting him should only make him improve to where he wants to be.
Hayward’s already got himself going after these last couple games so don’t be surprised if he continues it, starting or not. But like I said the last time I wrote about him, come playoffs we may be seeing what we have all been waiting for.
Photo: Rich pedroncelli/ associated press