Gordon Hayward
Be very careful about talking shit on Gordon Hayward. He just might be the #CUsRise most important player down the stretch (Streeter Lecka/ Getty Images)

Call me crazy, but I’m one of those people that believes the NBA regular season is about 10 percent more important than preseason football. It’s just 82 meaningless games of nothing. The Boston Celtics currently sit in 4th place in the Eastern Conference and have essentially been written off by every expert known to mankind. I’ve heard it all this season.

“The Celtics suck.” – “Kyrie is leaving.” – “The Celtics are better without Kyrie” – “Tatum has regressed” – “Brad Stevens can’t coach a team with talent” – “Gordon Hayward is a liability”

It’s all nonsense. I have news for you. The Boston Celtics are going to the NBA Finals and you better be very careful about talking shit on Gordon Hayward. He’s not only the X-Factor for the Celtics, Hayward just might be the most important Celtics too.

This 82 game regular season stretch doesn’t provide a ton of value. BUT… in the case of Gordon Hayward, it means everything. Hayward has been recovering from the broken leg that he suffered on opening night of last season. It’s been a long journey but slowly and surely, Hayward is showing major flashes of the All-Star player that flourished in Utah.

October: 6 games (field goal – .407%, 3-point – .364%)

November: 14 games (field goal – .417%, 3-point .264%)

December: 12 games (field goal – .370%, 3-point .340)

January: 14 games (field goal – .465%, 3-point .319)

February: 10 games (field goal – .513%, 3-point .444)

March: 12 games (field goal – .556%, 3-point .320)

April: 2 games (field goal – .529%, 3-point .500)

The first 50 games we should have just thrown out the window. No reasonable human being thought Hayward would be back to All-Star form in the early portion of the season. It was stupid to gather any sort of take away from his performance before game 50. Of course, people did because that is what NBA loser fans do.

Since January, Hayward has been a very productive player. He’s making monster leaps month after month. Hayward’s aggressive nature has also returned. He’s driving to the basket more, he’s facility better, and he’s converting his shots at a really good rate.

Do you know what else? Hayward is also really, really important. When the Celtics win, Hayward is a +13.4 on the floor. When the Celtics lose, he is a -10.4. When the Celtics win, Hayward shoots .512 from the floor. When the Celtics lose, Hayward shoots .357 percent. A lot of the Celtics early season struggles frankly stemmed from the fact that Hayward either wasn’t playing well or were missing that one piece they needed to become a real contender. Hayward is that guy that takes the Celtics over the top.

The Celtics are virtually unbeatable when Hayward plays well. The Celtics are 16-3 when Hayward scores at least 15 points in a game. Boston is also 5-0 when Hayward scores at least 20. The Celtics are 6-0 in games that Hayward plays and Jaylen Brown does not. Say what you want about Hayward but when he plays well, the Celtics do not lose.

Hayward will get to All-Star form eventually but will it happen by the time the playoffs come around? If it does, you can bank on the Celtics in the Finals. Be very careful about continuing to talk shit on Gordon Hayward. You might want to take it back before he bites you in the ass.