The Boston Celtics cruised to a 123-97 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, snapping a three-game losing streak and improving to 38-35 on the season.
The Celtics dominated the game from start to finish, leading by as many as 35 points and never letting the Raptors get closer than 18 in the second half.
One of the main reasons for the Celtics’ impressive performance was the play of rookie forward Sam Hauser, who had a career-high 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc. Hauser also added four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 24 minutes off the bench.
Hauser, who signed with the Celtics as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia, had only played in six games prior to Friday and had scored a total of nine points.
He had been spending most of his time with the Maine Red Claws in the G League, where he averaged 16.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 44.6 percent from three-point range.
But with Jaylen Brown out for the season with a wrist injury and Evan Fournier sidelined due to health and safety protocols, Hauser got an opportunity to showcase his skills and he did not disappoint.
He was confident and aggressive on offense, moving well without the ball and finding open spots on the perimeter. He also showed some versatility by scoring on a drive to the basket and a mid-range jumper.
Hauser’s shooting was especially impressive, as he made six of the Celtics’ 19 three-pointers on the night. He tied Marcus Smart for the team-high in triples and matched his season-high in attempts. He also displayed a quick release and a smooth stroke, making it look easy from long distance.
Hauser’s performance earned him praise from his teammates and coaches, who were happy to see him make the most of his opportunity.
“He’s been working hard all year,” Smart said of Hauser. “He’s been in the gym every day, getting shots up, working on his game. He’s been ready for this moment and he showed it tonight.”
“He’s a great shooter,” coach Brad Stevens said of Hauser. “He’s got a great feel for the game. He’s a smart player. He knows how to play off of others. He’s always in the right spots. He’s just a really good basketball player.”
Hauser said he was grateful for the chance to play meaningful minutes and contribute to the team’s win.
“It felt great,” Hauser said of his performance. “I’ve been working hard all year, just waiting for my opportunity. I’m glad I was able to help the team tonight.”
Hauser also said he was not surprised by his shooting display, as he has always been confident in his ability to knock down shots.
“I’ve always been a shooter,” Hauser said. “That’s what I do best. I just try to stay ready and shoot it when I’m open.”
Hauser’s breakout game could not have come at a better time for the Celtics, who are trying to secure a spot in the play-in tournament and avoid falling into the lottery. With Brown out and Fournier uncertain, the Celtics need all the scoring they can get from their bench.
Hauser proved that he can be a reliable option for the Celtics, especially as a floor-spacer who can stretch the defense and open up lanes for his teammates. He also showed that he can play within the flow of the offense and not force shots or disrupt the rhythm.
Hauser may not get another chance to score 21 points in a game this season, but he has certainly earned himself more playing time and more trust from his coaches and teammates. He has shown that he belongs in the NBA and that he can be a valuable piece for the Celtics moving forward.
Final Thoughts: Sam Hauser’s Breakout Performance Shines Light on Celtics’ Bench Strength
Sam Hauser’s impressive performance in the Boston Celtics‘ blowout win over the Toronto Raptors is a testament to the team’s depth and resilience. With injuries and health and safety protocols depleting their roster, the Celtics needed someone to step up and provide a spark off the bench.
Hauser, an undrafted rookie out of Virginia, answered the call with a career-high 21 points and a flawless shooting display from beyond the arc.
Hauser’s breakout game is not only a feel-good story for a hardworking player who had been biding his time in the G League, but it also highlights the Celtics’ bench strength and potential.
With players like Hauser, Payton Pritchard, Romeo Langford, and Grant Williams, the Celtics have a young and versatile second unit that can provide scoring, defense, and energy.
Moreover, Hauser’s shooting prowess makes him a valuable asset for the Celtics’ offensive scheme, which relies heavily on spacing and ball movement. His ability to knock down open threes not only adds points to the scoreboard but also creates driving lanes for his teammates and forces the defense to stay honest.
Of course, it’s important not to overreact to one game, especially against a depleted Raptors team that has struggled all season. But Hauser’s performance should not be dismissed as a fluke or a meaningless stat line. It was a showcase of his skills, his confidence, and his readiness to contribute when called upon.
It’s also a reminder that in the NBA, every player has a role to play, no matter how big or small. Hauser may not be a star or a starter, but he proved that he can be a reliable and impactful bench player for the Celtics.
His breakout game may not guarantee him more playing time or a permanent spot in the rotation, but it certainly earned him more respect and recognition from his coaches and teammates.
In the end, the Celtics’ success this season will depend on more than just one player or one game. But with players like Hauser stepping up and embracing their roles, the Celtics have a chance to make a deep playoff run and exceed expectations.
As for Hauser, he has shown that he belongs in the NBA and that he can be a valuable piece for the Celtics moving forward.