In the venue that severely altered his career just a little more than two years ago, Gordon Hayward put together his best performance as a Boston Celtic in a 119-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night.
The 29-year-old had it all going in this one, leading the C’s in scoring with 39 points to tie a career-high on 17/20 (85%) shooting to go along with eight assists, seven total rebounds, and a team-leading +/- of 12 in 33 minutes of play.
The final five of those 39 points wound up to be huge for the Celtics, as Hayward drilled his only corner three of the night coming off some quality ball movement from Daniel Theis, Marcus Smart, and Brad Wanamaker to give his side a 110-99 edge with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
That more than likely should have sealed things for Boston, but a quick 14-6 run on the part of the Cavs made it a three-point contest with 93 seconds to go.
Fast forward about a minute in game time later, coming off a jump ball, and Hayward came through in the clutch yet again, this time beating out Cavs forward Kevin Love to corral a missed three pointer from Kemba Walker, his first and only offensive board, and putting it back in the bucket for an easy two.
Hayward’s 17th make, the most he has ever hit on in a single game in his career, put the Celts up by five, and 119-113 would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.
“He was aggressive going to the basket,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens following his team’s fifth straight victory, “He just kept making the right play over and over.”
Through six games this season, the Indiana native is averaging 20.3 points per on 56.5% shooting (50% from three).
Now in his third full year with Boston, it appears that Hayward is finally comfortable and is settling into things nicely. Consistency is key, and Hayward has been exactly that to start out the early stages of the 2019-2020 campaign.
At 5-1 now, the Celtics’ next game will come against the Charlotte Hornets in the Queen City on Thursday night. A homecoming of sorts for Kemba Walker.