Each morning, we compile the hyperlinks of the day and dump them right here… highlighting the large story line. As a result of there’s nothing fairly as satisfying as morning dump.
The query, then, is what you imagine – the sharp, bodily Celtics crew that handed a giant loss to their seemingly first-round opponent on hostile hardwood Friday night time, or the group chargeable for a season’s value of dumpster fires.
The primary group seems to be on the ground proper now, after Friday night time’s 117-97 win over Indiana. They lead the Pacers by a sport within the chase for the Jap Convention’s fourth playoff seed and, above all, homecourt benefit within the first spherical.
The Celtics gained the tiebreaker, ending with a 3-1 season collection edge, and going again to final Friday’s win in Boston, appear to play this crew higher with every successive probability. Indiana, minus the surgically shelved Victor Oladipo, didn’t have the required firepower Friday night time.
The Celtics, then again, hit a considerably overdue move, together with Gordon Hayward’s 21 factors off the bench to associate with one other 22 from Jayson Tatum and 17 from Kyrie Irving. Total six Celtics broke into double figures.
After all, these numbers got here with out Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward round as a result of accidents. They’re each again this season and enjoying a few of their finest basketball proper now.
Nonetheless, how properly they play gained’t have an effect on Tatum’s impression, significantly when he’s being as aggressive, as we noticed on Friday night time towards the Pacers.
Tatum appeared desperate to assault each matchup that was in his favor, beating gamers to the rim together with his dribble-drive sport. And once they tried to take that away, he made them pay together with his 3-point shot.
NBC Sports activities Boston: ‘Playoff Jay’ on display in Celtics’ blowout of Pacers
The most important improvement for the Celtics over the past week? Earlier than the final month or so, each optimistic Gordon Hayward evaluation has been couched with some type of qualifier. Over the past month, nonetheless, Hayward has simply been good, no qualifiers obligatory. He’s attending to the road persistently, attending to the rim much more, scoring with AND with out screens (the latter was uncommon earlier within the season) and discovering teammates when he collapses the protection. Hayward is making a powerful case for prolonged minutes within the postseason, and — extra importantly — he seems to be including the lacking ingredient no one might fairly level out for the Celtics this season.
Are we having enjoyable but? Evidently, sure, we lastly are.
Celtics followers have been saying for weeks now – as a result of we had no selection – that the common season wouldn’t matter if the Cs might flip it on within the postseason. Now, all of the sudden, there’s motive for optimism.
Everyone knows the preseason consensus was that this Celtics squad would win 60+ video games and steamroll the East. Clearly, it didn’t work out that approach. Not even shut. And the way in which they failed – dwelling losses to Phoenix and New York, large blown results in the 2 L.A. groups in consecutive video games at dwelling, to call a number of examples – had everybody canceling their memberships within the Terry Rozier-Mook Morris Fan Membership.
However previously week, the Celtics gained 4 out of 5, beating Miami and Indiana twice apiece, with the final two approaching the highway in pretty dominant style. What might have been a catastrophe – if they’d failed to point out up, or had allowed any huge comebacks – as a substitute turned a doable turning level within the inconsistent, irritating season.
Maybe the principle motive for the newfound optimism is Hayward’s emergence. Over the previous two weeks, Gordo off the bench has averaged 16.four factors on 58.8% taking pictures. In Miami on Wednesday, he scored 25, went to the road 13 occasions, and added Eight boards and 5 assists. In Indiana final night time, he made 9-9 FGs and 3-Three FTs on his solution to 21 factors.
What different East crew has a sixth man like that?
And if Jayson Tatum is aggressive sufficient to get off 19 photographs, like he did final night time, that can be a terrific signal that the Celtics are attacking on offense – a positive recipe for playoff success.
The playoff seedings are additionally lining up correctly.
Yet one more win will give the Celts the fourth seed, together with dwelling court docket within the first spherical towards now-faltering Indiana. The Celts would then nearly actually play the Bucks within the second spherical. Milwaukee often is the prime crew within the league, however Boston matches up higher with them than Toronto. Additionally, the Celtics have misplaced eight straight within the Raptors’ enviornment, six of them by double digits. It’s place to keep away from.
Subsequent weekend we’ll begin to discover out if these Celtics can discover redemption within the playoffs. In the event that they do, we’ll actually have enjoyable.
NBC Sports activities Boston: Stars, Studs and Duds: Tatum and Hayward too much for Pacers | Gordon Hayward has historic night in Celtics win over Pacers | Have Celtics (finally) turned the corner to become an elite team? | Highlights of the Celtics’ 117-97 victory over the Pacers | Celtics’ Terry Rozier leaves Pacers game early with illness | That’s 1,000 3-pointers for the Celtics as they extend franchise record
MassLive: Gordon Hayward’s surge makes Boston Celtics’ recent success feel sustainable for a change | Tom Westerholm | Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers: Home-court advantage could be decided by Friday’s game (unless 76ers slip) | Aron Baynes injury: Boston Celtics big man told Brad Stevens ankle was fine, but ’he’s lied on several occasions’ | Gordon Hayward is back, a statement made, and 10 things we learned from Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers
Boston Sports activities Journal: BSJ Game Report: Celtics 117, Pacers 97 – Beatdown essentially locks up No. 4 seed
On Web page 2: Superior Al
Whether or not he’s directing visitors from the elbow, engineering a dribble hand-off, pushing the ball in transition, drawing a double-team within the publish, dragging his man to the nook, scurrying by myriad pick-and-roll coverages, or (he actually does this!) darting off an surprising pindown to launch an open three, Horford prevails as a cure-all balm who streamlines Boston’s assault in limitless methods. His sport, in different phrases, is Whac-A-Mole, and the Celtics would untether themselves from something near championship competition if he wasn’t there.
As untrustworthy as Boston has appeared because the all-star break, they nonetheless personal a top-10 offense and the most effective protection within the league when Horford is within the sport. When he sits, the Celtics lose their compass and get outscored by 13.2 factors per 100 possessions.
In response to Cleansing the Glass, solely the Milwaukee Bucks and Warriors outscore groups at the next fee than the model of the Celtics with Horford on the ground. In the event you strictly measure his impression on half-court offense, the Celtics are 10 factors per 100 possessions higher with him within the sport, an impact that places Horford among the many likes of Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Paul George.
SB Nation: Al Horford is still the Celtics’ savior
It’s easy: Al Horford will get it accomplished. Good to see a bit concerning the many ways in which’s true. This needs to be required studying for all of the Boston media loudmouths who criticize Horford with out understanding his true worth. Or as this Celtics fan put it:
And, lastly… A Celtic who was a trailblazer
Basketball pioneer Chuck Cooper, the primary African-American drafted in NBA historical past, can be introduced as an inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Corridor of Fame on Saturday in Minneapolis, a supply advised ESPN’s The Undefeated.
Cooper was chosen to the Corridor of Fame by the particular direct-elect Early African-American Pioneers Committee.
The previous Duquesne College star was drafted by the Boston Celtics 13th total on April 25, 1950.
Cooper endured robust racial prejudices on and off the court docket that rivaled what Corridor of Famer and Celtics legend Invoice Russell skilled in Boston.
Whereas with the Celtics, Cooper usually needed to keep at a unique lodge or eat in several eating places than his teammates as a result of he was black. The Pittsburgh native as soon as slept on the prepare as a substitute of within the crew lodge in North Carolina. Then-Celtics coach Pink Auerbach as soon as mentioned Cooper “needed to undergo hell” as an NBA participant. Corridor of Famer and former Celtics nice Bob Cousy as soon as cried in an interview whereas reflecting on what Cooper went by.
Effectively-deserved honor for the person who was the NBA’s Jackie Robinson. Cooper performed 4 seasons for the Celtics. He handed away in 1984.
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