No Gordon Hayward, absolutely no problem for Celtics

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By WEEI 93.7

It's not going to be this easy. But this time around it sure seemed really, really simple.

Living life without Gordon Hayward -- who is out for around four weeks with a Grade 3 ankle injury -- the Celtics actually looked across-the-board better in Game 2 against Sixers than Game 1, coming away with an easy 128-101 win over Philadelphia.

Sure, Jayson Tatum went a long way in picking up the slack, scoring 33 points in 31 minutes (going 8-for-12 from beyond the 3-point line). And Kemba Walker (22 points) and Jaylen Brown (20) did just about what most expected. But it was more than what will now have to be this team's Big 3. It was everything else that truly fueled the Celtics' optimism and truly demoralized a Sixers team that has Joel Embiid and not much else.

The message in this game was sent after the Sixers' jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter, and it was delivered by the much-maligned C's bench players.

Semi Ojeleye. Grant Williams. Brad Wanamaker. Romeo Langford. Enes Kanter.

OK ROOK ---- pic.twitter.com/p4G4iNiyrT

— Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 20, 2020

Each and every one of the group did something of some importance while the collection of Celtics' scorers were finding their way. And once they did, Philadelphia didn't have a chance. (It didn't hurt that the C's bench went a combined 7-for-7 from the three-point line, a stat line that included six players.)

Make no mistake about it, this bus will still be driven by Tatum, Brown and Walker. But even without the spacing supplied by Hayward's skillset, the trio only continued their much-talked-about bubble momentum. The Sixers, conversely, were left helplessly watching the Celtics carry a 23-point lead into the fourth quarter on the back of a player (Tatum) Philly chose not to draft.

There will still be bumps in the road. But the Celtics at least adeptly leapfrogged that first ankle-induced roadblock.

Kemba: "(Tatum) is a superstar. He’s a superstar. ... Jaylen’s a superstar as well. ... I love being around those two guys. I love the way they play basketball. I love how much they love the game of basketball. ... Really special dudes."Here's the full quote: pic.twitter.com/pGRqNm4KRZ

— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) August 20, 2020