BOSTON - A couple of years ago, a game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics would have been marquee viewing across the league. But with LeBron James in the uniform of the Los Angeles Lakers now, those days are over. Now, the duel between the Celtics and the Cavs makes for any ordinary Monday night. This past Monday, the Celtics took the opportunity of playing a rebuilding Cavs squad and crushed them by a score of 110-88.

With the win, Boston advanced to 17-5 and the Cavaliers fell to 5-18. Rumors popped up in Cleveland, as well, that Kevin Love is looking for a trade to the Portland Trail Blazers. However, I will not derive pleasure from the Cavs' misfortune because the Celtics were very close to being in the same boat earlier this year.

They got off to the hottest start in the league, thanks to a rotation of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Kemba Walker that clicked on all cylinders. But sadly, Hayward's monster reclamation of his All-Star status was seemingly cut short when he broke his hand during a game played about a month ago. To repair the left hand fracture, Hayward underwent surgery and the timetable for his return was unclear.

Soon thereafter, Kemba Walker was carted off the floor in a scary collision. Diagnosed with a neck injury and a concussion, it seemed like Walker's recovery time would be even longer.

But somehow, the Celtics fell into good fortune and Hayward and Walker both progressed at a clip that was well ahead of their expected recovery times. Walker is now back in action, as well as Hayward who made his return in Monday's match against Cleveland, as shared by the Boston Globe. He played 26 minutes and recorded 14 points with five rebounds and four assists. It was a much better performance than I expected, as I thought growing pains would be involved for the forward.

There's no doubt about it. With Hayward on the floor, not only does he steadily become the player we always knew him to be again. But he also helps open up the offense, creating opportunities for every one of his teammates. The Celtics are dominant with him in the lineup. He just has to stay healthy.

The next chance to see the full strength Celtics in action will be tonight when they compete against the Indiana Pacers on the road. Hopefully, we will see Hayward continue to return to his late October and early November form.

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