The Boston Celtics suffered a big blow in game one when Gordon Hayward broke his ankle. The team has responded with seven straight wins. Optimism in Boston!
Can Youth Replace Gordon Hayward?
After the horrible injury to Gordon Hayward in the first game of the season on a simple alley-oop play, everyone thought that the Boston Celtics were done again. The Celtics fall from basketball grace was so quick and so prolonged that even last year’s success was seen as a chimera after the injury to Hayward.
But the team has responded to this adversity. It remains to be seen if the team can actually challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers for Eastern Conference supremacy. As luck would have it, the Celtics schedule had the team playing the Cavaliers in that first game and the teams won’t meet again until January 3rd!
The Celtics have had so many lottery picks in recent years it almost seemed like Boston Celtics basketball was a USA casinos game rather than a flesh and blood game played by real people.
Amazingly, the Celtics are riding a seven game winning streak and have the best record in the league so far! With their exciting come from behind win against Oklahoma City, this year seems more than any year since the Larry Bird era ended to be the year to follow the Celtics live stream whenever they play.
Eastern Conference Questions
It’s also unclear as to which Eastern Conference team will prevail in the regular season as Cleveland has not played well and six teams are over .500 none of them the Cavs. So, with so much uncertainty in the East thus far, let’s take some time to see if we can elicit a few elements of the Celtics seven game winning streak that explain the streak and bode well for the rest of the season.
The Early Season
Game 3 offered a hint of good things to come as the Celtics used eleven players. They won the battle on the offensive boards and made enough assists to defeat a mediocre opponent.
Then the Celtics had a couple of days off before hosting the Knicks. Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, and Terry Rozier made some nice assists and as a team the Celts had 26 assists.
The Celtics sometimes get a lot of offensive rebounds and in other games not so many. The same holds true for assists; in one game they had 30 assists and in others fewer than 20.
The key at this early point in the season is that, even with the injury to Hayward, the Celts have far more depth than they have had in many seasons. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are leading the offense. Defensively they are getting a lot of steals and blocks. Defense in the NBA has always been a matter of heart and dedication. So many teams have had great offenses but played so poorly on defense that they were never a major challenge to the top teams.
Rookie Jayson Tatum has adjusted well to the pressure of providing a spark on both offense and defense in place of Gordon Hayward. He’s shooting very well from both 2-point range and 3-point range. This is a strong indication that he is not trying to do too much. He’s being selective with his shots and passes the ball when his shot is not there.
Last year’s rookie Jaylen Brown is producing some nice numbers especially on overall defense and rebounding. Marcus smart is still not shooting well but he doers contribute assists.
But the Celtics are relying on unproven or never-been bench players. Aron Baynes is not the long term solution at center. The quintet of Semi Ojeleye, Marcus Morris, Guerschon Yabusele, Shane Larkin, and Abdel Nader have contributed some good minutes but we can’t say that they solve any problems until such contributions become old hat.
The Celtics need the veteran leadership of Al Horford to steady them on the court during a down sequence. He should constantly be encouraging the young players to continue to choose their shots wisely. Kyrie Irving is a six year veteran even though he’s only 25 years old. In Cleveland he played in the formidable shadow of possibly the best player of all time. In Boston, he is expected to play well every night and provide another major dose of veteran influence on the young players.
Gordon Hayward was also a veteran. He was the type of player the team could count on to provide leadership on and off the court. In a league full of young, virile men with massive libidos, Hayward’s successful marriage is seen as a subtle positive influence on the team.
It is likely too much to ask the Celtics to continue their excellent play so far this season. But for now, we can watch them on live stream every game and enjoy the good moments which finally will be coming far more often than they have in the past.