Life without Gordon Hayward is off to an encouraging start for the Boston Celtics, who will look to run their winning streak to nine games when they host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
Hayward fractured his left hand against the San Antonio Spurs over the weekend and underwent surgery Monday that will sideline him six weeks. Even without the forward, who was off to an All-Star-caliber start, Boston beat the Dallas Mavericks 116-106 Monday night, showcasing the type of depth it’ll need to maintain its early success in Hayward’s absence.
“(We have to) find ways to win regardless,” said Jaylen Brown, who had 25 points and 11 rebounds in the win. “… We know how to win, so we’ve just got to continue to do that, and I think today was a good example of that.”
Marcus Smart jumped into the starting lineup in Hayward’s place and scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Kemba Walker led the way with eight 3-pointers and 24 of his 29 points in the second half. Walker exited late in the fourth quarter after experiencing whiplash on a hit from Luka Doncic, but he’s not on the injury report for Wednesday night and is expected to play without restriction.
“It just shows you how talented we are from everybody on this roster,” said Smart of overcoming the injuries. “Those guys go down and everybody else steps up and had their opportunities and took full advantage of it.”
Brown is averaging 19.8 points per game, and Tatum is at 19.4 despite a five-point showing on 1-of-18 shooting against Dallas. Role players Brad Wanamaker and Robert Williams III saw increased playing time in the win and will continue to be relied upon while Hayward recovers.
Things haven’t gone as good for the Wizards without John Wall (Achilles’) this season. Washington has dropped five of six heading into Wednesday night and is allowing more points per game (117.5) than all but one Eastern Conference team.
Bradley Beal has carried the club, averaging 26.1 points, but when he hit only eight of 21 shots against the Cleveland Cavaliers last Friday, Washington fell 113-100. With Beal out of sync, youngsters Rui Hachimura (21 points) and Thomas Bryant (23) carried the load.
“I thought we did a good job of attacking, but you know we just got to keep playing,” coach Scott Brooks said. “We got to keep playing and believe in what we do. We played hard, and we’re going to get the respect that we deserve.”
The Boston crowd Wednesday is sure to show respect to Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas, who is expected to make his first start in the building since his run as a fan favorite on the Celtics from 2015-17.
“The love that they showed (when I returned the first time), you would have thought I won a championship there, or was there for 10 years-plus,” said Thomas, who came off the bench at Boston with the Denver Nuggets last season. “… I appreciate their love, and I love them just as much they (love me). It will be fun to go back there.”
Boston big man Daniel Theis is doubtful for the contest with a sprained finger on his right hand.
–Field Level Media