The Celtics got Gordon Hayward back for Saturday’s Game 3 and finally beat the Heat to make it a 2-1 series instead of falling into a 3-0 hole.
Hayward’s stat line wouldn’t blow you away -- 6 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in 31 minutes -- but it was clear that his return made a difference.
Appearing on The Greg Hill Show ahead of Wednesday night’s Game 4, RADIO.COM Insider Brian Scalabrine explained that, specifically, Hayward helped cure one of the Celtics’ biggest ailments from the first two games of the series -- selfish play.
“I believe that this team is a better team than Miami, but I do believe that they have to play what I would consider team basketball,” Scalabrine said. “Gordon Hayward helped that. Basketball’s a contagious sport.
“If you are selfish, selfish play will seep through your team. If you’re unselfish, that will also seep through your team. It’s a lot easier for guys to turn back and be selfish, but when guys are moving the basketball, it’s weird for everyone to be moving it and you’re going into your bag and going into isolation.”
Scalabrine said Hayward is exactly the kind of unselfish player the Celtics needed to get the ball rolling (and moving) in the right direction.
“The way that I look at this is, I don’t think that guys fight over the ball. But I do look at it as, there’s a certain level of accountability that the Celtics want to play at,” Scalabrine said. “Each player is taught to make the right play. You’ll hear coaches say that. You’ll hear players say that. ‘It’s not a play for you. It’s a play to make the right play.’ Now that becomes a grey area. What is the right play?
“So what I just mentioned earlier about the unselfish play, when Gordon Hayward drives to the paint and just makes a simple pass to the corner, that’s the right play. Now the next guy needs to make the right play. I thought it was a snowball effect in Game 2 [of wrong plays]. … I do think Gordon Hayward coming back, and Gordon Hayward sitting on the sidelines for Games 1 and 2, he’s like, ‘Man, I just have to go in there and move the ball and everything will work itself out.’”
That said, Scalabrine still saw the Celtics revert a little bit too much to isolation in the fourth quarter as the Heat tried to mount a comeback, and said they’ll need to do a better job playing unselfishly all 48 minutes in order to close out games.
“I assume that they figured this out and that they’re going to get back on track, but you never know,” he said. “They were great for three quarters, but I thought the fourth quarter they went back to playing one-on-one basketball.”