And just like that, a season is turned completely upside down.
There hasn’t been a start to a season quite like it. With serious anticipation about the double header that was slated, you’d have hoped that it would be an opening night to remember. Not like this though.
After just 5 minutes the Boston Celtics’ season was turned upside down as new recruit and All-Star forward Gordon Hayward suffered a horrific leg injury, the severity of which rarely seen on the basketball court. When attempting to connect on a pass, Hayward was caught mid air and landed awkwardly on his left leg. The official diagnosis is a dislocated ankle and broken tibia, meaning Hayward will most likely be out for the rest of the season and then some. Unlike the injuries suffered by Paul George and Shaun Livingston (the most recent examples of this type of injury), this incident is focused on the ankle rather than the leg.
Bones heal relatively fast, ligaments and nerves not so much.
And just as Hayward will recover, so must the Celtics. With a fairly inexperienced squad and a loss of depth through off season moves, it will be on the shoulders of their other marquee trade piece Kyrie Irving to carry this team towards April. It looks as though he won’t be totally alone however with second year guard Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the rookie out of Duke, impressing in the trying times after the injury.
It is even somehow conceivable that the Celtics could’ve won this game, ending up going down to the Cavaliers 99-102. Shooting only 40% from the field, they managed to stay in the game by taking care of the ball with just 10 turnovers. Unfortunately Al Horford nor the bench outside of Marcus Smart managed to fire a shot to pick up the load of a missing Hayward.
On a positive note we saw a promising return from the much criticised Derrick Rose who in all fairness was pretty good in New York last year, when he wasn’t running off to Chicago on game day without telling the team etc. While Jae Crowder was very effective, not only on the offensive end but moreso the defensive side of the ball, fellow new Cavaliers recruits Jeff Green and Lebron’s buddy and future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade looked to be shaking off the rust a little slower, struggling on opening night.
Oh what about LeBron James? He was pretty good. Supposedly close to missing out on the game with an ankle injury, James managed to put up a pretty fantastic stat line of 29 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists in 41 minutes of action. Not bad for a guy entering his 15th NBA season huh.
Despite the entertaining game that followed, nothing managed to divert the attention from Haywards injury. In a game that was meant to be the first meeting of Kyrie Irving vs his former team, the rivalry notion flew out the door. There will be another night for this storyline again, tonight wasn’t the night.
Somehow the less eventful game of night was the star studded match up between Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors vs James Harden, Chris Paul and the Rockets. In a game where the Warriors found themselves up by 16 late in the third quarter, it was the Rockets through Harden and an enormous 3 man bench performance who snatched a win 122-121.
The Rockets bench was incredible scoring 58 points on an efficient 21/34 from the field, Eric Gordon leading the way with 24 points. All of this could’ve been for naught if not for the long fingers of Kevin Durant, who was a fraction of a second from getting the ball out of his hand for what would’ve been the game winning basket. A premature celebration followed the shot before the replay review showed the ball still on the end of Durant’s fingers when the clock read 0.0.
It was the Warriors bench, outside of Nick Young (23 points, 6/7 from 3), who failed to impress and undid a lot of the good work done by the starting 5. Jordan Bell showed signs that he is going to be a rookie to watch this season, effective on both ends of the floor.
The Rockets will look to keep this rolling as they head to Sacramento to play the Kings, while the Warriors head to New Orleans to take on Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins and the rest of the Pelicans.