Boston Celtics: Gordon Hayward the X-factor in team’s championship goals

Boston Celtics Gordon Hayward (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics Gordon Hayward (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

If the Boston Celtics are to get out of the Eastern Conference and advance to the NBA Finals, Gordon Hayward will need to be a more consistent player.

The Boston Celtics have quite the mountain to climb if they want to compete for an NBA championship this season, but that mountain is no steeper than the one Gordon Hayward has had to climb so far this season.

In a season that has been considered a disappointment thus far for the Celtics, much of the team’s struggles has been placed on the shoulders (or healed ankle) of Hayward.  As unfair as that blame has been considering he is coming off that traumatic injury suffered in the season opener in 2017, it is there and he knows he must continue to improve to help his team win.

So, while NBA experts debate whether the team is better without Kyrie Irving, the true x-factor in how far the Boston Celtics go this season is Hayward.  Though he has had a couple of 30-point performances, the 28-year-old forward has not played consistently like the All-Star he was when the Celtics signed him to a max deal in the Summer of 2017.

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Can he still get there?

Considering the depth this team has, he may not completely get there the remainder of this season, but he doesn’t have to.  He just has to be the player he was in the last two games against the Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons.

In the last three games, including that game against the Los Angeles Clippers most fans would like to forget, Gordon Hayward is averaging 21 points a game.  The most encouraging aspect of his performances was his high-percentage three-point shooting, assists and solid defense.

Of course, this was all with Kyrie Irving out of the lineup.  If the Boston Celtics can get their two stars playing at a high level while on the court at the same time, the Celtics absolutely have a chance to get out of the Eastern Conference and challenge the Golden State Warriors or whoever comes out of the Western Conference.

It all does depend on how Hayward because of his ability to handle the ball and be another scoring option.  If he continues to be aggressive and play with confidence, Celtics fans should start to see glimpses of the All-Star version of Hayward on a consistent basis.

In order to make that happen, the hard work needs to continue as Gordon Hayward knows it truly is all a part of the process.

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"“I’m not too worried about shots going in or out,” Hayward said, via the Providence Journal.  “I’m more worried about how I feel.  Am I attacking the basket?  Am I playing forceful? And for the most part, I feel like I’ve done that, especially more recently.  So things are getting better.”"

In all, the ankle is feeling stronger and it is showing on the court.  Along with attacking the rim, Hayward has thrown down a few dunks which shows his mental confidence.  As long as that is there, the physical aspect of his game will be there at the level it was prior to the injury.

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It took time, patience and a little bit of adversity, but it finally seems like Gordon Hayward has found his niche on this basketball team.  Now, let’s see how it all comes together because the play of Hayward will determine how far this team goes with or without Kyrie Irving.