After a year of watching from the sidelines and rehabbing, Gordon Hayward returned to the court for the Boston Celtics during the 2018-19 NBA season. As the Celtics earned their way to the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, Gordon had his share of memorable moments and performances as he re-acclimated to the NBA game and learned the tendencies and strengths of his teammates in his first full season of playing with the team. By season’s end Gordon proved that he will still be a force to be reckoned with in the NBA for years to come. The following is a series that ranks Gordon’s top-five performances from the 2018-19 regular season:
Feb. 12, 2019: Celtics at 76ers
In the early part of the 2018-19 NBA season, Gordon was focused primarily on reacclimating to the speed and physicality of the NBA game and schedule. However, by mid-February, Gordon was starting to find his rhythm and he was starting to produce some big games for the Celtics.
G-Time put up his best numbers of the season at this point in February against the 76ers. He shot 72.7 percent during the outing, his second-highest percentage through that point in the season. He made 6-of-7 three-pointers and shot a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw line on his way to 26 points in a narrow Celtics victory. Hayward played 28 minutes, leading the bench and helping to carry the momentum of the game. According to Hayward, the quality of shots on offense, paired with stopping the 76ers in transition, made a great recipe for victory.
“Yeah, I thought that we got some timely stops there, but I think most importantly, I think we played and got good shots on the offensive end,” Hayward said. “[We] didn’t allow them to get too many things in transition. That’s where I think they’re really, really dangerous with all the athletes they have and guys that can space and shoot and finish. That was key for us.”
Hayward didn’t enter the game until there was five minutes left in the first quarter. Just a minute and a half later, Gordon knocked down a 25-footer to get his night going. Two possessions later, Daniel Theis made a 3-pointer of his own. G wasn’t done. Following Theis’ 3-pointer, Hayward made his second three in just over a minute.
Midway through the third, Hayward connected on a jumper for two and then was fouled the next time the ball found him and knocked down a pair of foul shots. However, the Cs still trailed 62-66. After Theis slammed the ball in for an easy two points, Hayward put the cherry on top making his fourth three of the game to take Boston’s lead back 67-66.
Moving into the fourth, the Cs only led by three and would need another solid quarter to come away with the win. Hayward was the spark for Boston early in the fourth, making the team’s first shot of the quarter to add two to their lead. Ultimately, Hayward scored eight points in the fourth and helped his team get the win 112-109 against a talented 76ers team.
This mid-season win was a bit of a turning point for Gordon’s season as he really started to stack stellar performances together, and the Celtics as a whole began to start peaking for the playoffs.