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Gordon Hayward is finally, truly back

In a Boston win on Tuesday, Gordon Hayward had perhaps the best game of his NBA career (which is saying something, he’s had some great games) and definitely his best game as a Celtic. Sure, it was against the Cavaliers, possibly the worst squad in the league. But it still counts! Hayward scored 39 points on 17-for-19 shooting (16-16 inside the arc, tying Wilt Chamberlain’s mark for most made two-pointers in a game without a miss). That’s 1.84 points per shot. Pretty good.

As Keith Smith writes for CelticsBlog, with Hayward it’s more than just the boxscore: Gordon finally looks comfortable and carefree out on the court, now two full years after his devastating leg injury. It’s worth noting that seven of his makes on Tuesday came at the rim. While Hayward has never really had a high share of shots at the rim, in Utah he was good at drawing fouls. That basically disappeared last year, and while the presence of Kyrie Irving could partially explain that, comfort at getting inside off the bounce or the dish could make Hayward more effective. And that makes Boston more effective.

Boston isn’t a perfectly built team, but if Hayward is an above-average player and one of Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown break out and Kemba Walker continues to play well, this is a threatening team in the East. It’s good to see the Celtics bring back to good vibes after an unsettling 2018-19.

Scores

Pacers 120, Hornets 122 (OT)
Celtics 119, Cavaliers 113
Spurs 100, Hawks 108
Lakers 118, Bulls 112
Magic 94, Thunder 102
Heat 89, Nuggets 109

Schedule

All times ET. Games on League Pass unless otherwise noted.

Knicks at Pistons, 7 p.m.
Wizards at Pacers, 7 p.m.
Bulls at Hawks, 7:30 p.m.
Kings at Raptors, 7:30 p.m.
Warriors at Rockets, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Wolves at Grizzlies, 8 p.m.
Magic at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.
Sixers at Jazz, 9 p.m.
Bucks at Clippers, 10 p.m., ESPN

Links

John Collins is the latest player to get hit with a 25-game suspension for PEDs. Yikes! What’s behind the crackdown? Dan Devine wonders if these are blips or alarm bells.

Enormous free-throw disparity in the Pacers’ overtime loss to the Hornets. Strange.

Big comeback for the Lakers in Chicago led by the bench. Three straight triple-doubles for LeBron James. Best record in the NBA.

Trae Young is back.

The Spurs have finally embraced speed, writes Michael Pina.

The Magic aren’t very good right now.

The college basketball season opened Tuesday. Here are Mike Rutherford’s 10 predictions for the season.

How Penny Hardaway became the godfather of Memphis basketball.

Chris Herring on Draymond Green’s new context.

The top 10 sports animals, ranked.

Tyler Ricky Tynes on Aaron McKie’s personification of North Philly.

Natalie Weiner ponders whether anyone can stop Sabrina Ionescu and Oregon this season.

I feel bad that I cannot get into this whole “tokenized contract” stuff.

Brian Windhorst on what the Warriors have gained.

And finally: all 353 Division I college basketball teams as Moby Dick quotes. Genius.

Be excellent to each other.

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