The Aftermath of Gordon Hayward’s Injury
Gordon Hayward is averaging 17.5 points per game (with a 50 percent shooting clip) on 33.5 minutes per game so far this season. Hayward was viewed as the Celtics’ third man (behind Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown). So when he went down in game one versus the Philadelphia 76ers it was viewed as a devastating blow.
Yet his downfall has led to an increase in the minutes allocated to Celtics’ guard Marcus Smart. Smart has used his smothering defense to help create turnovers and force opponents into foul trouble.
In fact, he may have even saved the Celtics’ season after recording a chase-down block on Norman Powell (of the Toronto Raptors) with one minute remaining in game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
During Hayward’s absence the Celtics have gone 7-4. In this same time period the Celtics have sent home last year’s NBA Finals Champions (the Toronto Raptors). Each loss accumulated by the Celtics (in the 2020 NBA postseason) has occurred in a contest to which the Celtics could have won the game late.
Should Gordon Hayward Start for the Boston Celtics?
One factor in this occurrence of these losses has been a lack of depth on the bench. The Celtics rank 14th (out of the 16 NBA Playoff teams) in bench points per game with 18.2. The only two teams that ranked behind them in this category were the Indians Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers. Both of these teams were swept in the first round of this year’s playoffs.
One simple solution to this problem would be using Hayward as a sixth man. Former NBA all-stars such as Manu Ginobili, Kevin Mchale and John Havlicek have all thrived in such roles. This will add some offensive fire power to the Celtics bench. This action will also give Hayward the time to fully recover for a potential NBA finals match up.
Lastly, this will avoid disrupting the chemistry that Smart has built with the Celtics starting line up during Hayward’s absence.