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.
On Thursday, the trade deadline was long gone and the All-Star break had come to an end. We were getting relief from all the chatter and rumors, especially the Kyrie-to-New York BS. After seven days without a game, it was finally time to watch Celtics basketball again.
And Celtics vs. Bucks was what we expected: hard-fought, tense, dramatic – until the officials screwed up the ending, as confirmed by the league’s Last Two Minutes report.
Many of us who watched the game were not surprised.
It was shocking to see just how many calls were missed – five in just the last 3.7 seconds. On Kyrie’s final shot, he was fouled not once, but twice. The best that can be said about those final two minutes is that the referees were equally bad for both teams.
Ironically, the refs also screwed themselves. Milwaukee’s tip attempt to avoid a 24-second violation was brilliantly executed. If the officials had called it correctly, the Celtics probably wouldn’t have had a last shot to win the game, the final sequence wouldn’t have happened, and the officials wouldn’t have missed all those violations.
Whenever a game comes down to a missed call or three, there are always people who say: Don’t complain, you should’ve done more to win it before then.
But the counterpoint is what noted referee observer Tommy Heinsohn always says: There are really three teams in each contest; the officials are one of them. Everyone’s performance affects the outcome. If the referees make a mistake that takes away a team’s opportunity to score the winning points, they shouldn’t be let off the hook.
For those who haven’t suffered enough, here are the painful last five minutes, including Reggie Miller, as usual, being completely wrong about everything.
Related – Red’s Army: 5 thoughts about last night’s tough loss to the Bucks
On Page 2: Hayward probable tonight
After missing the Boston Celtics’ Thursday night loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Hayward practiced on Friday. Brad Stevens said he looked good in the session and that he would be re-evaluated on Saturday.
Hayward himself went one step further. While he confirmed that he felt good after practice, he also confirmed that he is expecting to play Saturday against the Bulls.
NBC Sports Boston: Gordon Hayward expects to play Saturday against the Bulls
Hayward’s absence hurt the Celtics in Milwaukee. Without the 6’8” forward, Brad Stevens actually gave Guerschon Yabusele five minutes in the third quarter, and – except for one missed shot – Yabu’s box score line was nothing but zeroes. Not helpful on the road against the league’s top team.
It’s generally agreed that Hayward has to make significant contributions if the Celtics are going anywhere between now and June. Gordo has been trending up, increasing his scoring average every month. This month, he’s looked more comfortable, more athletic, and closer than ever to his Utah self.
In seven February games, Hayward is averaging 27.3 minutes, 14.6 points and 4 assists, while shooting 57/52/90.
“Physically, I’ve felt pretty good,” Hayward told Basketball Insiders’ Spencer Davies. “I think I’m definitely moving way better than I was at the beginning of the season. I’m getting more and more confident with each month, each week.”
Boston’s 37-21 record may not show it, but this is close to being the powerhouse most expected it to be. The Shamrocks’ plus-6.2 net efficiency rating is the Association’s third-best, and that’s without Hayward even approaching his peak. If the former All-Star continues to ascend, the Celtics may yet prove to be the team to beat out East.
Bleacher Report: The Biggest X-Factor for Every Likely NBA Playoff Team
And, finally… He’s unique
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