Can a Gordon Hayward return spark a Celtics ECF comeback?
In the history of the Conference Finals, teams have a 6-52
record in series in which they’re trailing 2-0 and after a sloppy 106-101 loss
last night, the Celtics will be looking to be just the seventh team to comeback
from the deficit. The Celtics, who were up by 17 late in the 2nd
quarter, got outscored in the final 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter 23-6.
The Celtics in the second half shot 37.9% from the field to go along with 12
turnovers which was a complete turnaround from their performance in the first
half in which they shot 58.1% with 8 turnovers. Their sloppy play along with Miami’s
lengthy zone defense really frustrated the Celtics last night, in fact it was
heard by reporter’s post-game:
Marcus Smart is screaming in the #Celtics locker room and there is a bunch of arguing going on. Smart comes out say “y’all on that bullshit!” Team is imploding. Smart is in bathroom and there is still screaming coming from locker room.
I don’t see a problem with this, and strangely enough, I’m
pretty happy to see it. What comes with being a part of a family or team, is you’re
going to have disputes. It is impossible to not have disagreements with each
other so scenarios like this are going to happen within a team. I think it’s a
good sign for a group of competitors to show frustration and passion when games
don’t go the way they anticipated. Emotions were obviously high after losing a
close playoff game but it is good to let out their frustration and now it is
time for the Celtics to talk to one another, listen to these complaints, correct
them and get back to playing championship basketball.
Jaylen Brown: "We embrace each other for who we are. Who Marcus is...I love him for it. We gotta get ready to come back with that same fire for Game 3."
It is no secret that the zone defense Miami is playing has
been very effective. They put some lengthy players up top and it has really
been disrupting the Celtics offense. They couldn’t get a good rhythm going in
the second half and the Heat took full advantage of it. The Celtics are playing
in a must-win Game 3 Saturday night and the Celtics would love to see Gordon
Hayward on the floor with them again. Hayward, who averaged 22 points per game
in two games against Miami this season, hasn’t played since mid-August with a Grade
3 ankle sprain. At 6’7, the lengthy forward with his offensive and playmaking
ability could really turn this series around. Brad Stevens has been the focus
of many Celtics fan’s complaints through the first two games of the series due to
being dominated by Miami’s zone this series. In 32 Celtics possessions against
Miami’s zone, the Celtics only scored 25 points which is completely unacceptable
and something they definitely need to fix if they want to make it through this
series. The Celtics have been really missing Hayward who has been solid all
year averaging 17.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG while also adding 4.1 APG. No part of me
thinks the Celtics are done. The last two Eastern Conference champions came
back from a 2-0 deficit and after a good workout and an extended break between
Game 3 and 4, Hayward might be able to return Saturday night and be the savior for
the Celtics and their dreams of championship 18.
Gordon Hayward is progressing toward returning for Game 3 of Celtics-Heat after feeling good in Wednesday’s post-practice workout, a source with knowledge of the situation told @TheAthleticNBA. He expects to get more on-court work Friday with the hope of playing Saturday.