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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Different feeling at TD Garden

By MIKE SHALIN
October 19. 2017 11:31PM

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward addresses the crowd from his hospital bed as he recovers from a fractured left ankle before the start of Wednesday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

There was a different kind of feeling at TD Garden Wednesday night.

It was not a GOOD different kind of feeling.

What was supposed to be a night the home fans welcoming their new team to the Garden floor turned into something far worse, a feeling of severe pessimism in the air.

Before the game started, Marcus Smart came out to the middle of the floor to thank the fans for coming and quickly turned the welcome over to Gordon Hayward.

Live from his hospital bed.

This was just under 24 hours from the moment the 2017-18 Celtics season came crashing to the floor in Cleveland, with Hayward’s mangled left ankle a horrible sign of how things had changed.

Just like that.

Hours later, Hayward underwent surgery and the obvious hope he will be able to return — next season, according to his agent — as the same player next season.

But what about THIS season?

The Celtics entered the campaign as the clear No. 2 in the Eastern Conference. That appears to be out the window but you can be pretty sure of this: there WILL be playoffs at TD Garden.

Remember, with or without Hayward, this is a NEW team, one with only four players returning from last season, one that will rely heavily on second-year man Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum. It’s clear they’re not quite ready to play together, and the NBA didn’t do them any favors by sticking them with a back-to-back right out of the gate.

Just silly

Tuesday night was going to be an emotional one for the Celtics, even without what happened to Hayward less than halfway through the first quarter. We don’t need to tell you why. But for a league that is trying to limit back-to-backs, having the Bucks watching the Celtics from their BOSTON hotel was ludicrous.

Obviously, Tuesday became so much more emotional as the Celtics watched Hayward go down. It had the team shaken, but the players came back and almost won the game.

Then, they had to charter home — with Hayward onboard — and open their home season Wednesday. Putting it mildly, with Kyrie Irving trying to do too much, they ran out of gas and fell to 0-2.

After the game, word came down that Hayward was in surgery. His dad, Gordon Scott Hayward, tweeted Thursday morning, “G’s surgery was a big success! Thanks to Dr. McKeon & entire staff at NE Baptist Hospital who were truly amazing last night! #goCeltics.”

The club released the following update:

Last night Celtics forward Gordon Hayward underwent successful bony and ligamentous stabilization surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle sustained on Opening Night. The surgery was performed by Drs. Mark Slovenkai and Brian McKeon at New England Baptist Hospital, assisted by Dr. Anthony Schena, following consultations with Dr. David Porter of Methodist Sports Medicine in Indianapolis. No timetable has been set for Hayward’s return, but he is expected to make a full recovery.

The Celtics have an exemption to play with to replace Hayward but you wonder if there’s anyone out there worth it. For now, you will watch Irving, Al Horford and Marcus Morris (when he returns from a knee injury) leading the young guys.

I just have a feeling Irving is not going to have many 7-for-25 shooting nights like he had Wednesday the rest of the way.

Rookies meet

If you recall, the Celtics traded out of the top spot of the draft, allowing the Sixers to take Markelle Fultz with the first pick and then landing Tatum at No. 3.

Tonight, the two rookies meet for the first time as pros.

While Tatum had eight points and nine rebounds Wednesday and is averaging 11 points and 9.5 rebounds in two games, Fultz made his debut Wednesday night, coming off the bench with 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting and grabbing three rebounds in 18 minutes. He was a minus-18 in the 120-115 loss.

Speaking of debuts, how about Avery Bradley’s with the Pistons: 23 minutes, 15 points on 7-for-10 from the floor as a starter in Detroit’s opening win over Charlotte. He was a plus-10.

Kelly Olynyk started for the Heat in their loss at Orlando and had 10 points, five rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes and was a minus-10.

Oh, and Tyler Zeller was inactive for the Nets and Jonas Jerebko was a DNP-coach’s decision for Utah.

Did we forget anyone?

A different view

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Kahn has a reason why the President is spending so much time tweeting about the NFL players.

“This is a very personal issue with him,” Kahn said after the NFL owners’ meetings in New York. “He’s been elected President, where maybe a great goal he had in life to own an NFL team is not very likely. So, to make it tougher, or to hurt the league, it’s very calculated.

“Let’s get real. The attacks on Muslims, the attacks on minorities, the attacks on Jews. I think the NFL doesn’t even come close to that on the level of being offensive. Here, it’s about money, or messing with — trying to soil a league or a brand that he’s jealous of.”

Let’s not forget the current POTUS’ hand in killing the USFL.

Bronx tale

What the Yankees have done this year is rather amazing considering this was supposed to be a development year, one Las Vegas thought would be .500. We all know what they’ve done and what they can do with a win in Houston tonight or Saturday.

But what about the Astros?

This lethal offensive group has scored nine runs in five games and batted .147 as a team, the lowest batting average by a team in a postseason series since the 1969 Twins (a team I rooted for) hit .155 against the vaunted Orioles pitching staff in losing three straight to Baltimore in 1969.

While Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa have 10 of the club’s 22 hits in the series — and Altuve is in an 0-for-10 funk — Marwin Gonzalez, George Springer, Josh Reddick, Alex Bregman and Carlos Beltran are hitting a combined .101 (8-foor-79) against Yankees pitching.

The Yankee starters have pitched to a 1.28 ERA in this series.

If this series goes seven, it will mean CC Sabathia will be pitching after a Yankee loss for the 13th time this season. He is 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in the first 12.

Here and there

Kudos to David Backes for making it back so quickly from diverticulitis. … Masahiro Tanaka is 7-1 with an 0.86 in his last eight home starts. … Remember Jenny Dell? Saw her on the Big Ten Network doing a show called “College Eats.” … The Score had the Patriots No. 4 in its latest power rankings, with the words, “Only the Patriots could have Josh McCown be the sixth straight quarterback to rattle off 300 passing yards against them without getting written off as a terrible team.” … Yu Darvish’s bases-loaded walk in Game 3 of the NLCS at Chicago was the first by a pitcher in the postseason since 1977. … Will the Red Sox release Hanley Ramirez and eat $22 million — with the chance to save the other $22 million he would trigger with 497 plate appearances in 2018? … The Giants will wear No. 14 on their helmets to honor Yelberton Abraham (Y.A.) Tittle, who died at 90. … Finally, Aaron Rodgers’ injury sent the Packers from 6-point home favorites to 5½-point underdogs against the Saints.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


Patriots/NFL Red Sox/MLB Celtics/NBA Bruins/NHL Sports columns