News roundup: Hayward, Kyrie & more!

Here are a few notable headlines regarding the Celtics over the past week.

Hayward undergoes surgery: 

hayward injury
(Photo by Tony Dejak/AP)

Celtics fans can still remember the nauseating sight of Gordon Hayward grasping his fractured left ankle on opening night back in October. Hayward’s recovery process was extensively covered by the national media, with many analysts and fans wondering when he would return to the court for the Celtics. Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens, and the rest of Celtics’ management were cautious with Hayward’s rehab process, as they chose to not rush his recovery. 

Hayward made sure to keep Celtics’ fans in the loop, as he shared several videos showcasing him dribbling and shooting, which were definitely tantalizing for several fans, as they imagined the strength of a Celtics’ lineup that includes Hayward.

On Wednesday, the Celtics reported that Hayward had undergone a successful surgery to remove plates and screws from his ankle, as they were causing “irritation to his peroneal tendons”. According to the Celtics, Hayward’s ankle and fibula are now structurally sound, and he should be able to resume basketball activities in 6 to 8 weeks. This should be exciting news for Celtics’ fans, as they will soon be able to witness their team in full strength.

Kyrie spotted playing pickup basketball in New Jersey:

Kyrie Irving took some heat for missing the Celtics’ Game 7 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, as many pundits felt that his presence would have been invaluable for the Celtics’ young stars. Danny Ainge explained Irving’s absence by mentioning that he had undergone surgery to repair a deviated septum in his nasal canal (which was reportedly suffered when Aron Baynes elbowed him in the early stages of the season). 

Kyrie was recently spotted playing some pickup basketball in Hoboken, New Jersey, which is an encouraging sign for Celtics fans. For the people asking why Kyrie was able to play pickup hoops if he’s injured, it is almost impossible to compare the physicality of a pickup game to an actual NBA game.

Tatum’s appearance on ESPN:

Jayson Tatum had a great appearance on ESPN’s Get Up, as he discussed various topics, such as his dunk on LeBron James, and his experience as a rookie in the NBA. 

One of the highlights of this interview was Tatum’s puzzled expression when ESPN Analyst Jay Williams mentioned that he picked the Cavs to win the NBA Finals over the heavily favored Golden State Warriors.

https://twitter.com/NYSportCast/status/1002298590902083584

This interview showed that Tatum’s ability to spell is probably not as good as his ability to dunk, as he struggled mightily to spell out his former coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last name.

Tatum and the C’s dominate the Cavs to take 3-2 lead in the ECF

Team 1 2 3 4 T
BOS 32 21 23 20 96
CLE 19 23 18 23 83

Jayson Tatum and the Celtics utterly dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and are now one game away from the NBA Finals after taking a 3-2 series lead. Tonight’s victory improved the Celtics to 10-0 at home in the playoffs.

Here are a few takeaways from today’s game.

1. Bouncing back from Games 3 & 4

The Celtics’ woes on the road continued in Games 3 & 4, as they struggled to gain any momentum against LeBron and the Cavs. In both games, the Celtics dug early holes, as they started off ice cold from the field. For instance, they fell behind by 19 in Game 4, which made it extremely hard for them to come back. Aided by the raucous crowd at the TD Garden, the Celtics were able to start off hot, and take a 13 point lead at the end of the first quarter. 

When compared to the last two games of the series, the Celtics were much more composed, and made better decisions with the basketball. The C’s were able to absorb several Cleveland runs, including a decisive one in the fourth quarter which trimmed their lead to 12 points following a 9-0 run. With about five minutes remaining in the game, it appeared as if the Celtics were reeling after several head-scratching possessions, but a lob from Terry Rozier to Al Horford ensured that the game would not slip away.

2. A star in the making

Jayson Tatum has been absolutely remarkable for the Celtics in the playoffs, and his stellar performance continued tonight. Tatum logged 24 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Tatum was clearly the best player on the court for the Celtics and hit a number of key shots throughout the game which helped extend the Celtics’ lead. 

Tatum was thrust into the spotlight following Kyrie Irving’s injury, and his sustained brilliance has the Celtics one win away from a return to the NBA Finals.  

BG7U0109.JPG
(Photo by Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

3. Is Lebron tired?

Even though LeBron James had 26 points, it was still an off night for the King, as he had more turnovers than assists (six and five, respectively). LeBron had several careless turnovers which the Celtics benefited from, and it appeared as if carrying the Cavs in the early stages of the game had an impact on his effectiveness. On several occasions throughout the game, it was evident that LeBron was exhausted, which did not help the Cavs at all. 

 This could be attributed to the Celtics’ strategy of throwing several bodies at him, which requires him to exert more energy while driving to the basket. LeBron’s ineffectiveness made it much easier for the Celtics to utterly dominate the Cavs in Game 5. However, the Celtics cannot afford to let their guard down in Game 6, as LeBron will likely come at them with everything he has in an effort to stave off elimination.

LEBRON Game 5
(Photo by Charles Krupa/AP)

Looking ahead: With a victory in Friday’s Game 6, the Celtics would clinch a berth in their first NBA Finals since 2010. However, they must find a way to overcome their struggles on the road in the playoffs, as they are only 1-6 away from the TD Garden.