Boston Strong: A Team Ready to Fight for Hayward
When Gordon Hayward fell to the floor after a botched alley-oop last night, the Quicken Loans Arena fell hauntingly quiet. Both the Cavs and the Celtics struggled to deal with what had happened, and the fans were stood there, mouths open, hearts heavy, and tears falling from their eyes. It was an incredibly sad moment for the Boston Celtics, whether it was Brad Stevens or Kyrie Irving, Jalen Brown or Jayson Tatum – everyone was in shock. Even Cleveland players like Wade and LeBron had their hands in their heads, unable to process the traumatic events.
It’s not a normal scenario, that’s for sure, and as a team whose star player has just waved goodbye to most of the season on opening night, how in the hell do you pick yourself up from that? Off-season had given us so many positives, mainly in the form of the acquisition of Kyrie from the Cavs, Hayward from Utah, and Jayson Tatum from the NBA Draft, and the wait to see these new pieces come together had been excruciating. The pre-season games had been a very positive experience, and the potential in the way we played was boundless, especially seeing how much more aggressive we were on the rebounds, and when making our way to the paint. October 18th couldn’t come fast enough.
After watching the players huddle together after Hayward went down, I started to question just how this season was going to play out. There’s no way things are going to be the same without Hayward, but seeing how the players came together, hugged and embraced, then fought back in the second half gave me exactly what I needed: the Celtics are more than a team, they’re brothers. The first half showed a once confident Celtics team crumble to the experience and vigour of an experienced Cleveland Cavaliers, but it was to be expected. They lost the heart of the team, but they attacked the Cavs, they fought hard and they fought with the Celtic pride we all know exists.
We may have fallen at the last hurdle, thanks mainly to a massive 3 from Kevin Love and some LeBron magic, but we never let up. Kyrie showed just what kind of player he is, and Jalen Brown went from rookie to superstar, delivering a career-high 25 points for the Celtics. Jayson Tatum, on his NBA debut got a double double, something only Larry Bird has done for Boston when he made his debut. No matter who you are, that is one hell of a statement, and a massive positive. Losing by only 3 points is something I can cope with, given the circumstances very early on, but these guys fought with passion, love, and honour, regardless of the horrors they faced. I couldn’t be prouder.
Moving on, these guys need to stay positive. They need to play with that same fire, and they need to do it for Gordon Hayward. “We have to pick ourselves up and continue with the season as best we can until he’s back with us,” Kyrie said after the game. “We know ‘G’ is going to be fighting to get back on the court. We just need to keep fighting.” He’s right. The guys need to keep fighting, because there’re going to be a lot of naysayers saying the Celtics have derailed and will fall back into old habits, and that our season is over (I’m looking at you, Charles Barkley!). The thing is, with how good we looked, this team is going to dominate the more they play together, and when Hayward comes back before the season is out, you better believe we’re going for that title.
Boston Strong isn’t just a catchy phrase, it’s a way of life. From here on out, there’s going to be a team hungry for the win, united together and ready to play. There’re some fantastic things happening in the Celtics team now, one being the way Irving has taken Tatum under his wing, and how Brown is looking so good on the hardwood. Horford is focused and ready to go, seeming much more fired up this season, and every single guy on the bench has shown lots of promise, case and point the Sixers game where Ojeleye, Rozier, and Yabusele shone. Let’s do it for Gordon Hayward, and let’s unite because that’s what we do. It ain’t luck.