Yeah, Boston Celtics fans, losing Gordon Hayward, likely for the season, is rough. But there’s a lot to look forward to this season, even if hanging Banner 18 is out of the question.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Hayward and Kyrie Irving would join forces with Al Horford in the returning adventures of “The Big 3.” Veterans Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes would be the sidekicks, handling the dirty work as the stars flourished for the Boston Celtics.
Meanwhile youngsters Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum could just keep improving. They would contribute here and there, away from the spotlight, while preparing for their closeup in a year or two.
And our Boston Celtics would return to the Eastern Conference Finals seeking revenge on the Cleveland LeBrons. Fade out.
But Hayward’s Celtics’ career is on pause indefinitely with a dislocated ankle and fractured tibia. Morris is still a week away from making his Boston debut. Smart, too, missed the Celtics first victory of the season after rolling both his ankles in a collision with Brown.
So what’s a Celtics fan to do? In words of Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) from the movie Silver Linings Playbook:
"You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you do, if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining."
Terry Rozier, X-Factor
Rozier entered the season a forgotten prospect, behind Irving, Smart and Brown for backcourt minutes. With Hayward’s injury, however, minutes have opened up. And Rozier has ably filled them, both as a ball-handler and on the wing.
Rozier’s selection 16th overall in the 2015 draft surprised pundits. His skills overlapped with other guards, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Smart, already on the roster. But Thomas and Bradley are gone. Meanwhile Smart and the Celtics failed to agree on an extension, leaving him a restricted free agent after the season.
Suddenly Rozier has a chance to become a key member of this team’s rotation, now and for the future. And after posting an 18-8-5 line per 36 minutes over the first three games, Rozier appears up to the task.
Brad Stevens, Mad Scientist
More from Chowder and Champions
- 3 Midseason Chaim Bloom Decisions That Have Killed the 2023 Red Sox
- 10 Patriots Who Will Be Cut by Tuesday’s Roster Deadline
- MLB Screws Red Sox Fans With Broadcast for Mookie Betts Return
- 3 Most Underpaid Celtics Heading Into the 2023 Season
- Red Sox Continue Rollercoaster Season With Massive Win
Celtics fans appreciate Stevens’ talent for making average players good and good players great. His alchemy is a big part of the reason the Celtics quickly emerged from their rebuild a contender. And his reputation for whiteboard gold also likely helped bring Horford, Hayward and Irving to Boston.
This season, Stevens could rely on his Big 3 while protecting the next generation of Celtics stars through growing pains. With Hayward’s loss, however, Stevens now must once again mix-and-match youngsters to find the perfect winning formula.
Through three games, the Boston Celtics have deployed 14 of their 15 players, with only Kadeem Allen yet to suit up. Jabari Bird came out of nowhere to lock down J.J. Redick against the Sixers. Shane Larkin, Semi Ojeleye, Abdel Nader and Daniel Theis have all played key roles as well.
Stevens will, eventually, figure out something resembling a regular rotation. But it should be great fun watching the mad scientist work his lineup magic in the meantime.
The French Draymond
Meanwhile, Guerschon Yabusele lurks, ready to unleash his Draymond Green impersonation upon unsuspecting opponents. He’s played but three minutes in his nascent NBA career, but oh what those three minutes portend.
Yabusele’s Per 36 Minutes averages are 36 points and 12 rebounds with a perfect 100% shooting from beyond the arc. Never mind Green. Those are David Robinson numbers!
Okay, so maybe it’s too much to ask the raw Yabusele to turn into The Admiral overnight. Or, really, ever. But if he keeps working, keeps trying his hardest and stays positive, well…