It’s only November so there’s a long way to go, making the final result somewhat insignificant. Gordon Hayward wasn’t there. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were playing their first game together.

But as the game went into overtime on the West Coast Wednesday night, was it unreasonable to be thinking we were watching an NBA Finals preview?

The Celtics easily could have won this game against Doc Rivers’ Clippers. In fact, they were outscored 31-18 over the game’s final 11 minutes. All after overcoming missing their first 16 3-pointers.

“The thing I like about this group is we play hard,” said Jayson Tatum, who was brilliant with 30 points. “Sometimes things don’t go our way, but we compete.”

Again, it’s only November, but this was fun.

“Really good game, high-level game,” Brad Stevens said. “The defense on both ends was really outstanding.”

From what we’ve already seen from the Celtics, there’s no reason to believe they can’t be there coming out of the East in the playoffs. And seeing L.A.’s two stars together for the first time and wondering what they can become playing with Lou Williams, and what we’ve seen of the Lakers, there’s no reason to think BOTH Staples Center teams aren’t viable possibilities out of the West.

Imagine the matchup against either Doc’s guys or the hated Lakers? Wow!

Asked about having both Leonard and George together, Patrick Beverley, who really stole this game, said, “It was fun as hell.”

Rivers called the win “ugly” but said winning was “beautiful.”

Enough already

Raise your hand if you’ve had enough of Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown — and whether one or both will return to the Patriots.

Gronk had a “major” announcement to make earlier this week, the latest tease for Patriots fans thinking the big fella might be back. The announcement was for a Super Bowl party — not ON the football field.

“I wouldn’t say ‘never coming back,’” Gronkowski told ESPN. “I’m 30 years old. I’m young. I still stay fit, still watch the game whenever I can, still enjoy it. I’m feeling good, but you know, one year off could possibly be the case. Or maybe two years off, man.”

So the tease will continue, especially with the receiver corps so banged up.

Brown, who wants to return, apologized to Robert Kraft via Instagram, saying, “I apologize sincerely to you and your organization!” Brown wrote in the caption. “All I wanted to be was an asset to the organization; sorry for the bad media and the drama! Thank you. Sincerely, AB.”

Christian Fauria, speaking on WEEI, said the door is apparently open. “I think they have kicked the tires ... I know there have been discussions. That’s for sure,” he said. And Tedy Bruschi said the same thing when asked what happens if Brown is reinstated by the league. “I think you got to kick the tires,” he said. “I don’t see how they can’t consider the possibility of bringing him back based on how they are offensively”

Cowboy up

There are five NFL teams that have never beaten Tom Brady. The Dallas Cowboys are one of them. Brady is 5-0 against the Falcons, Bears and Vikings and 4-0 against the Cowboys and Bucs.

The Cowboys are at Gillette late Sunday afternoon.

Asked Wednesday what the Cowboys do well on defense, Brady, in his usual complimentary comments about the coming opposition, said, “Pretty much everything. Yeah, I think they’re top of the league basically in all of the major statistical categories. So, very good at all levels.

“They’ve got a great team so it’s a big, big challenge for us and we’re going to have to play a really great complementary game and try to beat a very good football team. “

The Dallas Cowboys do not have a great team. They’re good, but they come in just 6-4. The Pats are 6½-point favorites to go to 10-1.

Sunday marks the return of OT Isaiah Wynn, who returns to protect Brady’s blind side. But while it’s great to hail the kid’s return, keep in mind he’s played two professional football games.

The Patriots come into Sunday’s game looking for yet another milestone. A win gives them 17 straight 10-win seasons, breaking the tie with the 49ers of 1983-98.

L.A. bound?

With the Mookie Betts situation very much up in the air, the speculation over where he could end up continues to fly.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand says Betts could go to the Dodgers for Joc Pederson, Dustin May and Keibert Ruiz.

Feinsand explained: “Given the depth of Los Angeles’ farm system, acquiring Betts to push the Dodgers over the hump would seem to be a no-brainer. It’s difficult to imagine the Red Sox trading the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player Award winner without getting a stud prospect in return, so L.A. would need to include either Gavin Lux or Dustin May — its top two prospects, per MLB Pipeline — in any deal for Betts.

Ruiz is almost ready for the majors, and with the emergence of Will Smith last season, the Dodgers can afford to deal their other catching prospect. Add in Pederson — who earned $5 million last year and is headed into his final year of arbitration-eligibility — to help the Red Sox compete in 2020, and the deal works for both sides.

“Although the Dodgers would be unlikely to secure a 48- or 72-hour window to negotiate an extension with Betts, they would have a year to sell him on L.A. — and the financial might to keep him at Dodger Stadium for years to come.

Stay tuned. There will be a hundred more of these.

Back to school

They say you can’t go home again. But this week I got to go back to my college home, Wichita, Kan.

Yes, this New Yorker went to Wichita State, where I was the varsity basketball manager, graduating in 1976 after the Shockers won the Missouri Valley Conference. Tuesday night, I attended my first game out there since 1976.

The Shockers defeated Gardner Webb and it was only part of what I was out there to do.

Wednesday, I met with former Red Sox catcher Eric Wedge, WSU’s new baseball coach, getting ready to work in a renovated stadium on campus. Then, it was off to downtown, where former PawSox exec Lou Schwecheimer is overseeing the construction of the Wichita Wind Surge’s new stadium prior to the debut of the new AAA affiliate of the Marlins.

Thursday meant meeting up with former Shocker great Cheese Johnson and we both visited Schwecheimer before visiting Shocker basketball coach Gregg Marshall back at the arena.

It was good to be “home.”


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