Gordon Hayward, Celtics looking to build off biggest win of the season

A. Sherrod Blakely
NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON - Gordon Hayward was feeling restless Saturday night. 

The Celtics had just lost 123-119 to the Phoenix Suns, a game in which a number of Boston players fell short of making plays down the stretch - Hayward included.

He missed a shot from point-blank range in the final minute of play, one of several opportunities squandered by Boston in what would eventually become the team's third straight loss. 

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"It's a play you think about," Hayward told NBC Sports Boston of his late-game miss against the Suns. "I certainly thought about it all night … it's hard to sleep; feel like it's the play and the reason we lost. So to have good teammates to help you move past that is important, which I do."

Indeed, the Celtics moved on with an emphatic drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers by 32 points, the largest regular-season blowout in this heated rivalry in more than 50 years. 

And they hope to build off that tonight when they host the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies, who come in having won seven of their last eight and are currently holding down the eighth and final playoff spot out West. 

A key for Boston against the Grizzlies will be the play of Hayward, who in the team's win over the Lakers had 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Hayward's ability to fill up the stat sheet has been a strength for years. 

That play is fueled when Hayward is being aggressive from the opening tip-off, something he knows he has to do more consistently going forward. 

And while ratcheting up Hayward's aggression is a good thing, it's not like he has spent this season just standing around on the court, either. 

This season, he's averaging 9.7 drives per game, which among Celtics trails only Kemba Walker (11.5) and Jayson Tatum (10.1).

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Hayward also gets a boost from his teammates who have recognized from time to time when his confidence isn't where it needs to be in order for both him and the Celtics to be successful. 

"I see that sometimes," Walker told NBC Sports Boston. "Gordon gets a little frustrated. But I just try to let him know, we believe in you. I've been seeing Gordon play over these years. I know how talented he is. I know how good he is. He was an All-Star before his injury (in 2017). I try to remind him of those things; he needs it sometimes.

"I think sometimes he lacks confidence and that's on us to get G (Gordon) back on track. He has to know that we believe in him; and we do."

One of those moments came against the Suns on Saturday when Hayward was understandably upset at himself for the late-game miss at the rim. 

And within seconds of the play being over, Marcus Smart was talking with Hayward, encouraging him to put the play behind him. 

As the longest-tenured Celtic, Smart acknowledged he does have to be more of an encourager from time to time with his teammates - both veterans as well as rookies. 

"I've been in those situations before like Gordon was against Phoenix," Smart told NBC Sports Boston. "Where you had all eyes on you for something you did or didn't do. And the critics come out. And (on Monday against the Lakers), it's a different narrative. They're not gonna talk about that play (against Phoenix). They're gonna be praising him for what he did (on Monday).

Smart added, "We're gonna need him ... when he's playing good, it's hard for us to lose. The last thing I want is for anybody's confidence on this team to go down." 

Said Hayward: "To have good teammates, which I do, to help you move past when things don't go well, is important."

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Grizzlies-Celtics, which begins Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Gordon Hayward, Celtics looking to build off biggest win of the season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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