After showing glimpses of what he can do for the Boston Celtics in the first quarter of the season, Gordon Hayward finally broke out with his new team, pouring in 30 points, nine rebounds and eights assists at the Target Center against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that was coming off of four straight victories.
G-Time came in off the bench and was a catalyst for the Celtics in the second quarter scoring 12 points as Boston built their lead, which included swishing consecutive 3-pointers during a 21-7 run in the quarter to build a lead as big as 57-43.
“It felt good. It felt really good to be out there,” Hayward said. “I think more importantly, we won tonight. It was a great team win for us. For me to be as involved as I was, it felt really good.”
As the game progressed Hayward continued to make an impact on the game, attacking the basket, knocking down open jumpers and finding teammates in the flow of the offense for easy buckets. G-Time’s efficient performance finished with him shooting 4-5 from beyond the three point line and a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line on the road against Minnesota.
And G-Time produced in key moments down the stretch, scoring 11 of Boston’s final 15 points over the last 3:10 of the fourth quarter to hold off the Wolves’ comeback effort.
“I’ve continued to put in the work,” he said. “My teammates found me and I was able to knock down the first couple threes that I shot. When you see a couple go in, it makes the basket look a little bit wider, and they continued to find me down the stretch too for some open ones, and I knocked them down.”
After the game Gordon was pleased with his performance, and his teammates were thrilled for him too because they know how hard G-Time has been working for a moment like that. So of course, during Gordon’s post-game interview, a few teammates doused Gordon with Gatorade to celebrate the win.
The expectations were high when G-Time and Kyrie Irving joined the Celtics before last season, and while injuries prevented them from reaching their goals a season ago, a performance like tonight shows the potential this team has with such a great combination of veteran leadership and talent.
Saturday night may have been the first public breakout for Gordon, but Brad Stevens knows Gordon as well as anyone on a basketball court, and he sensed a breakout game from G-Time was due. Gordon has been putting in the work and showing it in practice, and it was only a matter of time before everything came together in a game.
“I’ve seen it so many times and seen it in practice,” Brad Stevens said of what Hayward has shown over the last week. “We saw it on Wednesday in practice that it was coming. It’s just a matter of time. This has not been easy for him. All he’s done is grit his teeth, been a great teammate and worked hard. I think there’s a lot to be said about that. The year didn’t start the way he wanted to. He’s not starting. But I think that he has helped set the example for what this team needs to be about and I think hopefully we can build off it.”
After a slow start to the season, the Celtics are beginning to find their rhythm as they have now won three consecutive games, and Gordon’s impact off the bench should help this team moving forward as he continues to gain confidence and reps as the season progresses. The Celtics are now 13-10 and rising up the Eastern Conference standings as the middle of the season draws closer. Gordon and the Celtics will look to build on this performance on Thursday when they take on the New York Knicks back in Boston.