Gordon Hayward finally got the monkey off his back on Saturday night. He had his first standout performance for the Boston Celtics and he put up 30 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. It was exactly the kind of performance Boston expected from Hayward when they inked him to a four-year, $128 million deal.
But Saturday was only the first half of the battle. Hayward is looking to build on this highpoint with consistency.
“It's never good to get too high on the highs or too low on the lows,” Hayward said to Tom Westerholm of MassLive. “So take it in stride, have another good week of practice and recovery, and try to build on this one. Have some consistency.”
If Hayward follows up this excellent performance with a dud, it's one step forward and two steps back. The Celtics need Hayward to be one of their best players if they want to make a trip to the NBA Finals and challenge the Golden State Warriors.
A version of Gordon Hayward that is less than what he's capable of would put the Celtics behind the eight-ball in an Eastern Conference that is far more formidable than anyone could have predicted.
The Toronto Raptors are a juggernaut with Kawhi Leonard, The Milwaukee Bucks are surging with Giannis Antetokounmpo taking another giant leap forward, and the Philadelphia 76ers are going for it all after trading for Jimmy Butler.
The Celtics have their work cut out for them. Now, the most important thing for Boston is to make sure Hayward gets going.