Gordon Hayward has been under the microscope since he suffered his gruesome ankle/leg injury last October.
After his devastating injury, some wondered if he ever would be the same. Those questions have haunted the 2017 All-Star throughout the season as he has been working to knock the rust off. The Butler product started the season slow, and even was moved to an unfamiliar role on the bench, but has shown glimpses of his former self lately.
On Saturday night, Hayward showed the NBA world he still can ball at an elite level.
Hayward was the knight in shining armor the Boston Celtics needed Saturday in their 118-109 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The 28-year-old had his best game of the season by far, recording season-highs in points (30) and assists (8), while also hauling in nine rebounds and going 10-for-10 on free throws.
He was at his best when the Celtics needed him the most, scoring 16 points in the fourth quarter. The T-Wolves were breathing down Boston’s neck in the fourth quarter and eliminated Boston’s lead, but the Timberwolves never were able to completely grab the momentum as Hayward often returned the favor.
Hayward’s performance put him in exclusive company, as he joined Giannis Antetokounmpo and Russell Westbrook as the only players with 30 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists in 30 minutes or less since 1946. (H/T @redsoxstats)
NBC Sports Boston’s Kyle Draper caught up with Hayward after the game.
“I’m feeling great. I’m feeling great about our win,” Hayward said, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “It was a big-time win for us. They started out the first quarter hot, we battled through that and took control of the game.”
Boston head coach Brad Stevens gleamed about Hayward’s performance after the game.
“This has not been easy for him,” Stevens said, via NBC Sports Boston. “And all he’s done is grit his teeth and been a great teammate and worked hard.”
With the big win Saturday, the Celtics extended their winning streak to three games and now have four days off before they square up with the New York Knicks on Thursday at TD Garden.
Here are some other notes from Saturday’s Celtics-Timberwolves game:
— Boston’s offense was clicking against the Timberwolves, and 3-point shooting was key in Saturday’s win. The C’s hit 17 of 44 shots from beyond the arc compared to just 9-of-28 for Minnesota. The Celtics also shared the ball well, dishing 30 assists on 40 made shots.
— Boston’s starting lineup came up big.
Kyrie Irving led the way amongst starters with 21 points and nine assists, while Jayson Tatum wasn’t far behind, chipping in 19 points of his own with nine rebounds. Marcus Morris and Al Horford both were solid as well with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
— Marcus Smart’s hot stretch from deep continues.
Smart only took three shots on the night, and they all were treys. He went 2-for-3 Saturday, and is shooting 42.9 percent over his last 10 games from deep overall.
Thumbnail photo via Harrison Barden/USA TODAY Sports Images