There are many important moments in a team’s run to a championship, many of which happen away from the gaze of both fans and media.
If the Boston Celtics eventually go on a run to the NBA Finals this season, they might have a late-November practice to thank for helping Gordon Hayward rediscover the form he had been trying to find.
The former All-Star struggled with rust over the first few weeks of the campaign, but Hayward has started to find his old form over the past few games, including pouring in a season-high 30 points in the Celtics’ win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 1.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge spoke with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” on Thursday and revealed the moment he believes Hayward started to become “Old G” again.
“I think, you know, Gordon is overcoming a lot of different things,” Ainge said. “One of them is just trying to fit in and how he fits in and how much he should be trying to do with a team that’s talented and it was more just like, ‘Go take it! Go take the opportunity that you have and make it work instead of trying to feel your way through it and fit in and no, go be Gordon Hayward.’
“And you know, he had one practice last week that I think was very inspirational, not just to him but it was inspirational to the whole team where he did that very thing and he was a dominant player. He wasn’t just a good player and improving, he was dominant and I think that he turned the corner there a little bit. But again I still would say that I think Gordon is going to be a player that’s better in the second half of the year than he is right now.”
Prior to “Old G’s” reemergence, Kyrie Irving gave his teammate a pep talk to remind him how talented he is and to keep being aggressive because that’s the player the Celtics need him to be. The practice and Irving’s advice seemed to have paid off as the Celtics have won four straight with Hayward playing a crucial role in Boston’s newly-formed bench mob.
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Thumbnail photo via Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports