Boston Celtics

By Ty Anderson,

The Boston Celtics simply ran out of gas in the fourth quarter of their loss to an obviously charged-up Toronto Raptors squad on Friday night. And despite backbreaking, back-to-back three-pointers to officially put the Celtics to bed, good news came with the fact that Gordon Hayward, who played all of five minutes last season, did not appear to run out of gas.

In fact, it seemed that Hayward looked more like the Hayward the C’s signed to a max contract in 2017 with each passing minute.

Held to under 25 minutes (the Celtics are clearly going to stick to this plan out of the gate), the 28-year-old Hayward finished the night as Boston’s third-highest scorer, with 14 points behind a 6-of-13 effort from the field. This also came with Hayward tasked with defending the Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard at various points, which has never been an easy feat for anybody in the NBA.

“In the second half I was getting to some stuff that I normally do, that I’m good at,” Hayward acknowledged after the win. “Haven’t felt that way. There were four or five minutes where I felt pretty good. Slowly that stuff is coming back.”

You saw that with Hayward’s willingness to drive to the basket and take the shots when they were there, especially in a second half in which he converted on three of his seven attempts (including a three-pointer) for eight points.

And while the sample is only two games, it was obvious that Hayward seemed to be in sync with his teammates — namely Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum — on a more consistent basis, especially out of the gate after an ugly start against the Sixers on Tuesday.

“I’m getting more comfortable with the guys,” Hayward, who went through some undeniable preseason struggles with this group earlier this month, admitted. “It still feels like I’m not playing like myself; I’m thinking too much out there. I was doing that in the first half a little bit. So the more that I can play and not worry about what I’m doing out there, the better.”

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 98.5 The Sports Hub. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.