You would think having seven days between games would be a good thing for a Celtics team that just can’t seem to stay healthy. The top seven of Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, Marcus Smart and Enes Kanter have played together in about 10 games this year. So, coming out of the All-Star break, I was excited to see what a fully healthy team could do, only bad part is no one told Kemba. He was out of Friday night’s game with “left knee soreness,” which sounds a lot like load management. This really makes you think about why Kemba played 30 minutes in the All-Star game. Was this all an inside job by Nick Nurse to sabotage the Celtics?
Conspiracy theories aside, the Celtics had a real NBA game in Minnesota. The 127-117 win over the T-Wolves wasn’t the most impressive win of the year, not even close. But, I think it was very telling. Gordon Hayward is so back it’s not even funny anymore to think otherwise. When he’s in attack mode, he’s at his best and it showed Friday night. Dropping 29 points on 12-17 shooting, adding on 5 rebounds and 6 assists is a perfect Gordon Hayward game, and he’s starting to look a lot like the guy the Celtics paid for. Can you believe people wanted him traded for Drummond?
Same goes for Jaylen Brown, I don’t think anyone needed the All-Star break more than that guy. Brown last played on February 11th against the Rockets with two sprained ankles. I’ve always thought his game is similar to Russell Westbrook’s in that they’re most efficient when they go full speed to the basket, and that’s what Brown was able to do yesterday. 25 points with 8 boards on 10-17 shooting? I’ll take that every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Tatum’s game wasn’t the most efficient. He shot less than 40 percent from the field, but still added 28 points and 11 rebounds. He didn’t shoot well, but he was able to get to the free throw line. He went 8-8 and you just love to see it. That’s where Tatum’s growth this year has been tremendous. On the chance he has a bad shooting night, he goes to the basket looking get to the free throw line. Last year, he’d take the worst shots possible and try to shoot himself out of a slump. Spoiler alert: that never works.
We’re saving the best for last here, folks. Daniel Theis was incredible. This guy averages 8.7 points and 6.4 boards a game, and Friday night he went for 25 and 16. Now, I know this is more of an anomaly, but without Karl-Anthony Towns on the court, there was a huge hole in the middle and the Celts were able to take advantage.
And I know what you’re thinking, the three seeded Celtics beat one of the worst teams in the league, who cares? As a pessimistic Celtics fan who still has PTSD from the 2018-2019 season and the Kyrie era, I always expect them to lose these kind of games. So, it’s nice to see the Celtics beat the teams they’re supposed to and do it convincingly. You can probably tell, I’m really fun to watch games with. Anyway, starting Sunday, the Celtics head west for three games in four days and are closing out the month against three of the top five teams in the Western Conference. There couldn’t be a tougher way to close out February, but this stretch will show us how much potential these guys have come playoff time. It all starts Sunday at Staples Center. Beat L.A.