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 were embroiled in one of their toughest practices of the season, and they were poking and prodding at Hayward — “fouling him and s—” as Marcus Morris put it.
“He just got red at one point,” Morris said. “He was really upset. He was going really hard.”
The catalyst (predictably) was Marcus Smart, according to Morris. The Celtics’ chief instigator got tangled up with Hayward, and Hayward was quietly boiling.
The results were eye-opening. Brad Stevens said the practice let him know Hayward had a big performance was coming. Kyrie Irving said he knew Hayward had “that ticker inside him.” Morris said Hayward started getting out in transition and dunking in ways the Celtics had yet to see since he joined the team.
Let me just start by saying Marcus Morris is quickly becoming my favorite player on the Celtics. This guy takes great joy in instigating alongside Marcus Smart. They make one hell of a tag team.
Also, the rise of Morris calling Marcus “Smarty” (read the link) is one of my favorite developments of the season.
The thought of Smart and Morris taking turns roughing up Hayward in order to draw this side of him out is pretty amazing. Sometimes a guy who’s in his own head needs a little push to get it out of him… and Hayward was pushed.
The beauty of this is that it’s the team collectively willing Hayward to keep progressing. Kyrie is doing it his way, by encouraging him and being a little philosophical about it. Smart and Morris are doing it their way… by being a little asshole-ish in order to light that competitive fire inside Hayward.
Sometimes that’s what it takes to get a guy out of his malaise. If it gets him reacting instead of thinking on the floor, then it’s a positive outcome.
And don’t think they’re not all pulling for the guy. In case you missed how they reacted after Hayward’s huge game, it was pretty cool.
What I want now is for Smart and Morris to start a side business… Marcii Motivation… where both Marcuses show up to your job when you’re in a funk and just prod and berate you until you’re back on track. The results speak for themselves.
All your Hayward-related links:
Page 2: Jayson Tatum’s quiet adjustments are as important as anything
This season 25.1 percent of his offense has come from catch-and-shoot opportunities, while 40.6 percent have been pull-ups. Pull-up shots come off the dribble, and dribbling a lot means a player isn’t passing.
Over the past three games, only 26.8 percent of Tatum’s shots have been pull-ups, while 36.6 percent have been catch-and-shoot. Going into this week, a majority of Tatum’s shots were taken in the mid-range. This week, he’s evenly distributed between threes, restricted area shots, and mid-range shots. That’s a significant change in the right direction for Tatum.
Not surprisingly, ditching the individual play has benefited his overall numbers. He is averaging 16.3 points on 44.6 percent shooting on the year but he averaged 17.3 points on 46.3 percent shooting this past week, which is proof that if you just play the right way, the ball will find you and you will be rewarded.
This might be the week we look back to for the big Celtics turnaround. Kyrie is rightfully getting a lot of attention for being awesome. The Marcii are also rightfully getting plenty of positive attention for their impact on the starting lineup. Hayward’s turnaround is also and obviously worthy storyline.
But as all those things were happening, Tatum has been choosing his shots more wisely. Gone are most of the isolation pull ups, replaced mostly by attacks to the rim and threes.
Considering how much his isolation was grinding possessions to a halt earlier in the season it’s important to note how this change is helping both himself and the Celtics.
As I wrote on Boston.com, this should be the ultimate lesson for Tatum. He’s scoring more and shooting better, so giving the ball up doesn’t mean sacrificing stats.
I’ve been beating this drum since the beginning… trust in the offense enough to give the ball up. If everyone has that trust, then the ball will find the right guy at the right time. If you do the right things on the floor, you’ll be the right guy often enough to get your offense going.
That’s the attitude these guys should have. This is where the Celtics should ultimately be. Forget screwing around and playing down to competition. It’s time to relish in the ability to blow a team out. Why go 10 rounds and wait for a decision when you can get a second round TKO?
They’re taking the small steps towards getting where they want to be. December can be a great month for the Celtics with a lot of asses to kick. New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington, Atlanta, Detroit, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Houston, Memphis, and San Antonio. There are a lot of potential wins on that schedule. They should have fun.
The rest of the links