OAKLAND, Calif. — This was such a Boston Celtics kind of game.
Just when it seemed the outcome of their Tuesday night tilt with the Golden State Warriors would be another opportunity to throw one more shovel’s worth of dirt on them, they rose from the depths of their basketball doldrums and delivered a performance reminding us all just how great a team they can be.
So it was only fitting leading the charge was Gordon Hayward, a former All-Star who now comes off the bench who like the Celtics, has moments that takes us all back in time – like two years ago when he was in Utah – to when he was arguably a top-20 player in the league.
On Tuesday, Hayward had one of those Hot Tub Time Machine moments as Boston absolutely hammered the Golden State Warriors, 128-95, as Hayward led all scorers with 30 points.
The 33-point margin of victory over the Warriors was the largest ever by the Celtics under sixth-year coach Brad Stevens, and the largest margin of the defeat for Golden State (44-20) this season.
And the win itself was Boston’s third in the last four years over Golden State at Oracle Arena.
But the story of the night was Hayward, who had 30 points off the bench on 12-for-16 shooting from the field along with seven rebounds and four assists.
☘️ CELTICS 128, WARRIORS 95
It was the third time this season Hayward has had at least 30 points scored off the bench, joining an ultra-exclusive club of Celtics players that includes Kevin McHale (he did it twice) and Ricky Davis.
Strong scoring nights from Hayward more times than not, have been indicative of success for the Celtics.
When Hayward has scored 18 or more points, the Celtics are 10-2 this season.
“Obviously he shot the ball in and probably did so on a low number of shots relatively speaking,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “So, he’s gonna make the next right play. He was also very active defensively which was good.”
More than anything, Hayward played with a heightened level of aggression at both ends of the floor, whether it was attacking a defender off the dribble or playing the passing lanes for a couple of steals.
“Some of it is just taking what the defense gives me,” Hayward said. “Like I said, I think when the first one goes down it is a really good feeling, it makes them kind of respect the jump shot and then I’ve always been a guy that gets to the rim first and tries to get into the lane, so that opens up that game for me.”
And his play on nights like Tuesday, opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the Celtics in their quest to get to the NBA Finals.
“It’s huge,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “That’s another player out there that can create, score for us. That’s what we need. He’s been struggling a little bit. He could use a game like this, and it’s really good for the team.”
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