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.
The Celtics suffered a tough loss in Toronto last night, but something positive did come out of it.
“I felt like I found a little bit of rhythm there in the second half,” Hayward said. “It was a good step for me. Each game will be progress. Unfortunately, we didn’t win tonight, but I found something in the second.”
Kyrie Irving noticed it too.
“I agree with him,” Irving said. “He got a chance to really let loose a little bit, kind of get in the mid-range, be aggressive in transition as well as off those pick-and-rolls. He just kind of threw himself into the game tonight, obviously, just playing hard and playing himself into game shape. He looked great, he looked great. So I look forward to him progressing more.”
There were noticeable moments when Hayward didn’t look tentative or worried, he just looked like a player. It was probably the first time in a Celtics uniform that he moved smoothly and confidently. Here’s one such occasion:
Hayward scored 14 on 6-13 shooting, including this sweet jumper without hesitation.
This is the talent that made Hayward a max-contract free agent. It’s pretty clear that, for the Cs to be on the same level as the Raptors, they’re going to need Gordie to get himself all the way back.
Related – Boston Sports Journal (subscription site): Robb: Gordon Hayward takes important step forward in loss to Raptors
On Page 2: Two problems
Two factors led directly to Boston’s 12-point defeat in Toronto: the officiating and Kawhi Leonard.
Not to go all Tommy Heinsohn about the officials, but they certainly did influence the outcome with three calls they made late in the fourth quarter. It was all due to Kyle Lowry, a shameless flopper who’s cagey enough that the refs buy what he’s selling. (Marcus Smart could learn some lessons.)
First there was this play with 4:35 remaining and Toronto up by three. Lowry was barely touched, but…
A minute later, Lowry exaggerated contact to draw a suspect offensive foul on Mook Morris. Then he got Tatum again:
These calls all helped swing momentum dramatically toward Toronto, and not coincidentally, the Raps outscored the Celts 12-2 over the final three minutes.
Oh, what the hell, let’s hear what Tommy himself said.
Then there was The Claw.
Boston and Toronto began this season considered two of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.
And they did not disappoint, delivering the kind of down-to-the-wire finish you come to expect when two of the best collide.
In the end, Toronto did just enough to escape with a 113-101 victory.
Kawhi Leonard put his imprint on the game just seconds into the game with those ginormous mitts of his picking off a Celtics pass. As the game wore on, Leonard’s two-way talent continued to shine brighter and brighter. He led the Raptors with 31 points to go with 10 rebounds for his second double-double in as many games with the Raptors.
NBC Sports Boston: Celtics struggle to contain Kawhi Leonard in loss
Kawhi’s teammates followed his lead and shredded Boston’s defense most of the game. After a tame 18-point first quarter, the Raps posted 31, 33 and 31 across the final three periods. Serge Ibaka was a beast all night with 21 points on 10-14 from the floor, and Lowry broke the game open with a long three with two minutes left.
Toronto shot 55.8% in the second half, compared to Boston’s 35.2%. The Celtics will have to figure this out for their next meeting with the Raptors, November 16 at the Garden.
Game links –
Sports Illustrated: Raptors, Celtics Set the Bar High to Start the Season
And, finally… Sunk by the Swedish Larry Bird
On Thursday night, former Celtic Kelly Olynyk stunned the Wizards in D.C. with a last-second game winner. Last night, former Celtic Jonas Jerebko did the same to the Jazz in Utah. The Jonas Bonus was that he played for the Jazz last year.
Our friend Jack Michael summed up the drama from the Weird Celtics Twitter point of view.
The Rest of the Links: