The Basketball Gods have had it in for the Jazz this season. After losing Gordon Hayward in free agency last summer, Utah has battled a lot of injuries, most notably a couple of knee injuries to center Rudy Gobert.
Now this: Thabo Sefolosha appears done for the season after injuring his knee against the Hornets on Friday, Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports reports.
The veteran swingman has been solid mostly off the bench for the Jazz this season, averaging 8.2 points per game, shooting 38 percent from three and playing solid defense in 21 minutes a night. On a Utah team that just cannot afford more injuries this will hurt.
Expect Jonas Jerebko and Joe Johnson to get more run with Sefolosha out.
Isaiah Thomas said he expected “all love” from Celtics fans in his return to Boston with the Cavaliers. Jae Crowder, also sent to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving trade, said he too expected cheers in Boston (while poking at Celtics fans cheering Gordon Hayward, then of the Jazz, last season).
Boston delivered for both former Celtics tonight.
Crowder was warmly welcomed when introduced as a starter:
Then, Thomas – who isn’t playing tonight – got a standing ovation during a timeout:
It’ll probably again be all love when the Cavs visit Boston on Feb. 11 and the Celtics presumably play Thomas’ tribute video. This was a nice start, though.
Isaiah Thomas doesn’t plan to play against his old team when the Cavaliers visit the Celtics tomorrow.
But Jae Crowder – also sent from Boston to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving trade – does. And Crowder has expectations for his return.
Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe:
If you remember, Crowder was mad Celtics fans cheered for Gordon Hayward when the Jazz visited Boston last season. Crowder saw fans cheering for an opponent to take his job, and his consternation was justified. The Celtics signed Hayward then traded Crowder last summer.
This just goes to reinforce Crowder’s reputation for having a long memory and being petty. Don’t be surprised if he also bolsters his reputation for toughness tomorrow night.
It was gruesome for anyone who watched it — just 5:15 into his Boston Celtics career, Gordon Hayward sat on the floor under the basket with his foot and ankle facing the wrong direction. There was no question from that moment he could well be out for the season.
What we don’t get to see is the rehab — the surgery, then the daily grind of physical therapy. Gordon joined The Dan Patrick Show (broadcast on NBC Sports Network) on Wednesday and talked about the injury. Patrick asked an insightful question: Which has been harder, the physical pain or the mental depression from the injury?
“Definitely the depression. It’s been painful, but it’s nothing like sitting around watching the team you were supposed to be playing with this year. I signed to play for the Boston Celtics this year now to only sit and watch the Boston Celtics this year. That part has been difficult and much more difficult to deal with than the pain.”
No, Hayward refused to put a timeline on his return. As you would expect.
“I work out every day to try to increase my range of motion and increase my strength in my legs so that I can be back as fast as I can. Whether that’s this year or this summer or next year, I will just let that happen. But for sure, as a competitor, I’m just trying to come back faster than anyone has ever done it.”
(If Hayward pushes himself and could be cleared to return for the playoffs in mid-April, or just before, would the Celtics allow it? Boston believes they can challenge Cleveland right now, but the organization is focused long term and they are not going to push Hayward back for this postseason.)
Check out the entire interview, where Hayward talks about his hot jersey sales and more.
Just when we though Isaiah Thomas had fallen off the collective radar of the NBA, he squeaks right back in.
Thomas, who the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired in a trade this summer for Kyrie Irving, has yet to play a game due to a nagging hip injury. That injury caused some back-and-forth squabbling between Cleveland and the Boston Celtics, but things got sorted and the teams went on their way.
Irving has been spectacular of course, helping to lead the Celtics to a record of 25-7 in the absence of Gordon Hayward, good enough for the top slot in the Eastern Conference.
Now, it appears that Thomas is ahead of schedule and will be ready to help the Cavaliers fight for that spot come early January. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania, Thomas and Cleveland want him to be playing the first week of the new year.
Of course, we’ve heard this before. The team has said this season that Thomas would play in January. Then the line moved and the Cavaliers thought he would play in December. It’s now moved back to January, but reports are more firm as we’re closer to the expected date and Thomas is playing in 4-on-4 drills. The great news is this honed return date seems to directly target the second game of 2018 for the Cavaliers, which is conveniently against the Celtics.
No doubt Thomas will be jonesing to take on his former team, where he certainly would have preferred to stay after a stellar season in 2016-17. Still, Thomas has been in good spirits — he gets to play with LeBron James for goodness sake — and the Jan. 3 game will be one to watch.
If Thomas can’t make it for that January matchup, the next opportunity he will have to beat Boston will be on Feb. 11.