A familiar face for both the Celtics and the Jazz was at the TD Garden Friday night.
Gordon Hayward attended just his second home game of the year, after going down with what was initially presumed to be a season-ending ankle fracture in the NBA tip-off game. Although both the Celtics and Hayward have not put a timetable on his eventual return, the injured forward indicated that suiting up in a few months is not completely out of the picture.
Hayward told reporters his mind is “open” to the idea of rejoining his teammates on the court later this season.
“I’m trying to get back as fast as I can,” he said. “It all depends on how I heal, taking it day-by-day, goal-by-goal, and we’ll see what happens.”
The 27-year-old added he was planning on attending more games once he ditched his walking boot on Wednesday. Hayward’s rehabilitation schedule happened to align with one of the more highly anticipated match-ups on his radar.
“This is a game I had circled,” he said. “I wish I were out there. It makes it harder to just sit back and watch.”
The feelings of wanting to be out on the court are not unique to the Celtics’ game against the Jazz. Hayward said it’s hard “not being able to play with the team,” regardless of the opponent. But as much as he wants to on the floor, he also knows it’s more effective take a day-by-day approach — something that head coach Brad Stevens emphasized at Butler.
“I literally can only do so much before I cannot do certain things,” he said. “It’s good just to focus on small things.”
“Right now, I’m doing stuff with the bike,” he continued. “Slowly progressing to using a little bit of both legs. Next step is both legs, running, all that stuff … It’s a grind. It’s pretty tough to do each day, but that’s my job right now. My job is to rehab and try and get better each day.”
After their game against the Jazz, the Celtics will depart for a short road trip. As of now, Hayward does not plan to travel with the team.