Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Gordon Hayward spoke to the media in an official Celtics press conference on Thursday morning — his first since going down with what is presumed to be a season-ending injury during the team’s season opener.
On his reaction to the injury: “I was obviously just devastated. I felt like I had put in so much work to get ready for this season … Made a pretty tough decision to come here to Boston to play, one that I still definitely don’t regret by any means. But I wanted it to go differently for my first game as a Celtic. So just devastated, I guess, that I wouldn’t be able to contribute, that I wouldn’t be able to have the season I wanted to have.”
On talking to his doctors post-surgery: “I’m a pretty skeptical person, and I question a lot. So I grilled him, and I wanted to make sure what he was telling me wasn’t just him feeding me lines to try to keep my spirits up. The doctors were unbelievable, all the doctors at New England Baptist and Dr. Porter in Indianapolis, in showing me how I was going to recover, showing me why I was going to recover, telling me about different athletes that have done the exact same thing and showing me where they are at now. So it was not just telling me but kind of showing me the reasoning behind it. So that definitely lifted my spirits, and they said if you’re going to have a horrific injury, this as the one to have. I’ll take that, I guess.”
On his return: “I’m putting zero expectations on myself as far as a timetable. For me, I want to get better today. Right after this, I’m going to do so rehab, do some chair shooting, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
“When they were carting me out, that’s when it hit me emotionally,” he said. “I got this wave of emotion, ‘Am I done? Is this my career? Is this over? This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.’ It for sure crossed my mind this could be it.”
This week, we learned from Hayward’s Facebook post, and his Today interview, and his press conference, that he is doing probably as well as possible, all things considered. It was great to hear that he’s begun his rehab and is optimistic that he’ll come back stronger than before.
Hayward also does not expect to play this season, and that’s a shame for him, the team and the fans. At tipoff of the season opener, the Celtics had legitimate expectations of going to the NBA Finals. Six minutes later, it seemed like the Cs were back to square one – no better than they were last season, when they were good but not great. No chance of catching the Cavs.
But maybe that’s not the way it has to be. Maybe the six-game winning streak shows that Boston still might be great. Maybe Jaylen is really making the leap, and Tatum is the real deal, and Baynes and Semi are brick walls, and Kyrie, Smart, Horford, Rozier and Morris will do everything we expect and more.
Maybe, with Cleveland suddenly struggling, the Celts can again be the number one seed in the East. Even without Hayward.
And here’s one more “maybe.” What happens if, by April, Hayward is fully recovered and doctors give him the green light to play? What if he feels great and is mentally ready, too? Then maybe the Celtics will go into the playoffs with the team they expected to have all along.
Realistically, that won’t happen, and that would be fine. We shouldn’t expect Hayward to play this season. But if he can’t play and the Celtics go no further than they did last season, it’s human nature that we’ll always wonder what might have been.
Get well soon, Gordon.
ESPN Boston – Gordon Hayward glad to be back with Celtics after injury
NBC Sports Boston – In addressing injury for first time, Hayward says he’ll ‘lean on’ Paul George
MassLive – Gordon Hayward Injury: Boston Celtics star has negative thoughts daily but excited to attack road to recovery | George Hill reflects on Paul George’s recovery, wishes Boston Celtics’ star Gordon Hayward well
Worcester Telegram – Celtics: Boston’s defense steps up early in season
On Page 2: Meanwhile, in Cleveland…
Figuring in the Cavs’ 124-107 beat down at the hands of Indiana on Wednesday, Cleveland’s lost the last three games by 58 points. That’s worse than the 57 points by which James and the Cavs lost three games from April 5-8 in 2005, his second season in the league.
The 2017-18 Cavs, actually, are in the midst of a four-game losing streak by a combined 63 points — also the worst four-game stretch of James’ career in terms of point differential. It’s worse than the 61 points by which Cleveland dropped four games in March of his rookie year.
Cleveland.com – Cavaliers’ last four losses the worst of LeBron James’ career
Everyone was worried about the Cavs’ defense headed into this season, and those concerns have been proved right. No one seems to care—including LeBron, for the most part—and Ty Lue doesn’t exactly have defensive stalwarts he can turn to on the bench. Even with James putting up gaudy offensive numbers (25.6 PPG, 8.9 APG, 7.0 RPG) on uber-efficient shooting (59.4 FG%), Cleveland looks overmatched on most nights. The culprit is the second-worst defense in the league, better only than the 1–8 Mavericks. If the Cavs come anywhere near the Finals with this pitiful defense, the Warriors will score 150 a night.
Sports Illustrated – A LeBron James Team Shouldn’t Be This Sad to Watch
It’s a beautiful thing: the Cavs are not just losing, they are getting smoked. Life without Kyrie isn’t as easy as they thought it would be. Isaiah Thomas isn’t ready to rescue them. Their poor defense will probably get worse now that Tristan Thompson is injured. And how many “clear the air” meetings can a team have?
Conventional wisdom is that LeBron will lead the Cavs back to the top. Even if that’s true, for now I’m going to enjoy seeing them in 13th place.
Related: ESPN – LeBron on fourth straight loss: ‘Our team is kind of depleted’
And, finally: The G.O.A.T. of socks
Good choice when you need to win a Game 7, but the big news here is that Bill Russell socks exist.
This sweet footwear is sold on stance.com but, unfortunately, the product page says the item is currently not available. However, they also have a Cousy/Russell version and other Celtics styles, so start your gift shopping early.
The Rest of the Links:
Portland Press Herald – Bird prepared to answer another call as Claws open season