Gordon Hayward had a solid game for the Boston Celtics against the Phoenix Suns. He didn't have his best shooting performance but he was aggressive en route to scoring 22 points and keeping the Celtics in the game late.
However, Hayward had one of the key misses of the night for the C's. Trailing by five, Brad Stevens drew up a beautiful inbounds pass that got the ball to Hayward wide open at the rim. Hayward caught the ball mid-air but failed to put it through the hoop.
A make would've brought the Celtics to within three with less than a minute left. But alas, it wasn't meant to be and the Celtics lost by a score of 123-119.
Right after Hayward missed the shot, Marcus Smart was seen on the court encouraging him and saying that things would be okay. And on Twitter after the game, Smart took it one step further and continued to defend Hayward and his spot on the team.
Not a tough pill. Every player has been here. He's a great teammate and a great player and what he does for our team is immeasurable! Love our team! https://t.co/1dnnr2ocXI— marcus smart (@smart_MS3) January 19, 2020
This is a great move by Smart and represents the impact he has on the locker room. He's the longest-tenured Celtic, he plays hard, and he's always there to support his teammates. He's a key glue guy whose impact can't be measured purely by box score stats, even when he puts up a career-high 37 points and sets a Celtics record for most 3-point shots made in a game.
As for Hayward, he has drawn the ire of Celtics fans amid the team's recent struggles, but he's still averaging 14.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game in the team's past eight games. Those numbers are all a bit lower than his season averages, but he alone is not the main reason for the team's struggles.
The Celtics clearly have some issues to iron out and Brad Stevens is aware of that. But if the members of the team continue to support each other, they should eventually work their way out of this extended slump.
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Marcus Smart tweets encouraging message about Gordon Hayward after key miss originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston