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:
March 5, 2019: Celtics at Warriors
Hayward’s final 30-point game came against the dominant Golden State Warriors. The Celts started the game on an 11-0 run. Within the next two minutes, the Warriors fought back to trail by one a single point 13-12 Celtics. Hayward then cashed in on an Irving assist for a smooth 27-foot 3-pointer to give the Cs some cushion. By the end of the first quarter, Hayward had seven points and helped lay the foundation for a rout of the league’s most dominant team.
Boston began the second quarter on an 8-0 run, ending with a Hayward three to stretch the lead further. They were up 40-24 two minutes into the second quarter, and that’s when the game started to slip away from Golden State. Exchanging basket-for-basket, Hayward soon found himself at the free throw line shooting two. At this point in the season, G found himself shooting the best free throw percentage of his career at 85 percent, and he made both free throws.
The Celtics boasted their depth in this matchup with Golden State, with eight different players scoring seven or more points, led by Gordon’s 30-point night.
“Just moving the ball, moving bodies, it’s hard for them to catch up to us,” Hayward said. “And then you can really exploit different matchups and stuff.”
Hayward made two back-to-back shots for the Celtics in the second for five points and a minute later, dropped in another bucket to bring the Celtics lead to a comfortable 22 points. Boston finished the first half up 73-48 over the two-time defending champs. Hayward led his bunch with 19 points in the first half.
The Cs held a solid 21-point lead when Hayward entered the game with under six minutes remaining. In the final four minutes of the third quarter, Hayward had put together nine points, one assist and one steal for a dunk.
Gordon’s performance on the offensive end was scintillating, making 12-of-16 shots from the field, along with four threes and a pair of free throws. In addition, he pulled down seven rebounds, dished out four assists, and came away with two steals. In the win, G-time became the third Celtics player to score 30-plus points off the bench three times in a single season.
“It was fun tonight,” Hayward said. “We did have like, 38 assists or something? I mean that’s utilizing all of our weapons.”