In recent years, Celtics fans have occasionally turned home games into a chance to shower a prospective free agent with love.
Last season some cheered for impending free agents Kevin Durant and, to a lesser extent, Al Horford. And at the start of Tuesday night’s game against the Jazz, there were some cheers for forward Gordon Hayward, who can become a free agent at season’s end if he declines his player option.
And that did not sit well with Celtics forward Jae Crowder, who plays the same position as Hayward.
“I heard the cheering before the game,” Crowder said. “I didn’t like that at all. I think that was a sign of disrespect to me from the fans. That sparked a little fire in me.”
Crowder then went on to drill his first five 3-pointers of the game, his lone miss coming on a desperation heave with the shot clock winding down in the fourth quarter. He finished with 21 points and said his mind-set was simple.
“Just be aggressive,” Crowder said. “That’s all. I just felt disrespected.”
After the Celtics’ 115-104 win, Crowder used Twitter to voice some more of his frustration
“Home team fans cheering for the opposing players now,” he wrote. “Aw man OK. SMH. But good win fellas onto the next one!!”
Hospital to hardwood
Celtics guard Marcus Smart (gastrointestinal) and center Tyler Zeller (sinus infection) were both released Tuesday morning from New England Baptist Hospital after spending two nights there to receive medical treatment.
Smart, who seems to have been hit by the stomach bug that has been circulating among players, coaches, and staff members, returned to the TD Garden court Tuesday night. Zeller, meanwhile, remains sidelined, but coach Brad Stevens said he was hopeful the 7-footer would return for Thursday’s practice.
Smart said the Celtics advised him to go to the hospital Sunday, and he was ultimately treated with antibiotics and fluids. Smart was healthy enough to play 28 minutes and score 9 points in the Celtics’ victory.
“I haven’t been to the hospital in a long time because of sickness,” he said. “I usually take a day or two off and I’m right back at it. That was something that I couldn’t shake off and it was around that time when everybody’s getting sick now.”
Smart said that he lost a couple of pounds while hospitalized, but that he was no longer contagious. He said he did not need his minutes to be restricted as he worked his way back. He was just glad to be back.
“Those couple days, it was hard for me to even understand what was going on,” Smart said.
Celtics guard Avery Bradley, who missed last Friday’s game against the Heat with a gastrointestinal issue, returned Tuesday as well. Bradley, who practiced Monday afternoon, scored 14 points in 36 minutes of action.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder is from Seattle, and about 10 years ago his friends and family members there began to tell him about this pint-sized point guard from Tacoma who was doing amazing things on a basketball court.
“I marvel at him,” Snyder said of Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas. “I’ve watched him a long time, longer than he knows.”
Thomas went into Tuesday’s game averaging 27.7 points and 6.1 assists and appears to be headed to his second consecutive All-Star team. Snyder said it is increasingly difficult to game-plan for him.
“He plays with a level of confidence and toughness that is unique,” Snyder said. “That separates him. And then he plays with an urgency and a force. So when he’s in the half-court, you’re constantly having to react to him. The minute you let up for a second, ‘Bam.’ It’s like a fighter; if you drop your hands, he’s hitting you in the face. That’s how I feel when I watch him play.”
Snyder said that perhaps his family members knew something about Thomas that NBA talent evaluators apparently did not.
“They wouldn’t have drafted him No. 60,” he said, smiling.
Wall of fame
On Monday afternoon, Thomas was asked if he felt he deserved to be named the Eastern Conference’s player of the month for December.
“I definitely should get that award, for sure,” he said.
Although Thomas was nominated for the honor, Wizards guard John Wall won the award Tuesday. Wall led the conference with 10.7 assists and 2.67 steals per game during December. He also averaged 24.5 points per game, helping the Wizards go 10-5.
In 12 December games, Thomas averaged 30.3 points and 5.9 assists, including a stirring 52-point performance in a win over the Heat. His cause may have been hurt, however, by the fact that he missed four games because of a groin strain.
When Stevens was asked how Thomas might respond to a perceived slight, he said: “I think Isaiah will do what he normally does with results like that, and put them on his shoulder.”
Scouting report II
Stevens’s relationship with Hayward when he coached him at Butler University is well documented.
Hayward came in averaging career highs of 22.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Stevens said that when he coached Hayward, he thought he could become an NBA player, but he didn’t necessarily envision this.
“But he’s made great strides,” Stevens said. “He’s gotten better every year from his senior year at Brownsburg [High] through however many years now he’s been in Utah. His continuous improvement has put him in a great spot. He’s had a tremendous year, too.”
Hayward led the Jazz with 23 points, but had only two rebounds.