Despite the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Boston Celtics continue to struggle in the 2018-19 NBA season. Irving already looked like his old self since returning from injury, but Hayward is yet to regain his All-Star form. In 15 games he played this season, the 28-year-old small forward is averaging 10.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals on 39.9 percent shooting from the field and 29.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Gordon Hayward’s presence has been negatively affecting the performance of some of the Celtics’ young players, specifically Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. In their recent game against the Charlotte Hornets, Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens decided to remove Hayward from their starting lineup and replaced him with Aron Baynes. In a post-game interview, Stevens revealed the reason behind his decision to start Baynes over Hayward.
“It was more about getting Gordon in the right groups, for him,” Stevens said, via USA Today’s Celtics Wire. “We’re still going to be a work in progress, so, obviously, nothing (is) set in stone with that.”
Coach Brad Stevens believes Gordon Hayward would perform better when he played with their second unit, especially with Marcus Morris. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen in their 117-112 loss to the Hornets. In 31 minutes of action, Hayward only posted four points, eight rebounds, four assists, and one steal on 1-of-6 from the field and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc. Stevens revealed that they plan to continue using different lineups until they figure out what is best for the team.
“Gordon and (Marcus) Morris have had a great chemistry,” Stevens said. “And I think, I know we’ve got a chance because we’ve got guys in there that are willing to take a back seat, if you will. Although it doesn’t change his minutes or rotations as much, but that’s a good sign. I think that we’re probably not done tweaking the lineups.”
Brad Stevens on Gordon Hayward benching: C's 'not done tweaking' https://t.co/zbmXCXTrl9— The Celtics Wire (@TheCelticsWire) November 20, 2018
There are several factors that are contributing to Gordon Hayward’s struggle. Aside from receiving a minutes restriction, Hayward is also taking lesser shots in his second year with the Celtics. Unlike in his final season with the Utah Jazz where he averaged 15.8 field-goal attempts, Hayward is just taking 9.2 shots per game in the 2018-19 NBA season. The decrease in shot attempts is quite understandable since Hayward is currently playing on a team with Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum.
As of now, the No. 1 thing that Coach Brad Stevens should do is to find a way how to maximize the effectiveness of Gordon Hayward and build a good chemistry. The Celtics’ next game will be against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night at TD Garden.