By JD PELEGRINO
The Celtics have one of the best home records in the entire Eastern Conference. The Celtics are 21-6 while playing at home and Wednesday, Feb. 30 wasn’t anything different as the Celtics went to work in the win against the Charlotte Hornets.
For the second-straight game, Boston had at least six players score double digits. This is what peak Celtics performances look like. Four of the starting-five scored at least 14, with Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown scoring 12 and 24 respectively. When the Celtics hit like they did Wednesday night, they are nearly impossible to beat. If it wasn’t for the four-point home loss to the Warriors, the Celtics would be on an eight-game winning streak right now instead of two games.
Although Boston was without their all-star point guard Kyrie Irving, they were dominant in almost every quarter, taking the edge over the Hornets 35-28 at the end of the first. Point guard Terry Rozier led the pack once again and pulled out another win. Rozier has been playing like no other over the last three weeks and has earned every second of playing time. Rozier recorded his first double-double of the season against Charlotte with 17 points and 10 assists.
“You know exactly what you’re getting,”coach Brad Stevens said about Rozier’s play at the post-game press conference. “I think his spark over the last three or four weeks has been really, really impactful.”
Hayward, who has only averaged 8.7 points-per-game throughout the last 10 games put up 12 points off the bench. Hayward is a facilitator of the offense and although the 6-foot-8-inch forward isn’t a point guard, he proved his abilities taking the ball up the court off the glass ending a drive with an assist to Brown.
Hayward is reaching full health after enduring a gruesome leg injury, dislocating his ankle and fracturing his tibia in Oct. 2017, less than six minutes into his tenure with the Celtics. Hayward is averaging 25.5 minutes-per-game this season compared to 30 mpg throughout his career.
Hayward did something in the first quarter that was impressive to see from a guy coming off of an injury of his caliber. With 1:45 left in the first quarter, Hayward took the ball from the arch up inside the paint and pulled a triple-fake on the Hornets’ defenders. He then went right underneath to lay the ball up off the glass for two points.
Hayward was not alone on the list of players off the bench that contributed big time. Shooting guard Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with a game-high 24 points and posted a double-double for himself. Brown caught 10 boards and led the team with 30 minutes.
With six players scoring double digits, defending the Celtics is one of the toughest tasks an NBA team will face all season simply because anybody can score.
Friday night, the Celtics took their talents to Madison Square Garden where they earned a win against the Eastern Conference’s worst team the New York Knicks with a score of 113-99.
The Celtics have climbed to fourth in the East, but within a single game of third place. The tides in the Eastern Conference could shift in the coming week.
The Celtics will host the Los Angeles Lakers at TD Garden tomorrow night at 7 p.m. CT.