Morning sports update: Gordon Hayward acknowledged he’s ‘not all the way back yet’

Also: A GIF of Danny Ainge and Mike Zarren celebrating, Julian Edelman's old coaches weigh in, and more.

Gordon Hayward Celtics injury rehab
Gordon Hayward grabs a rebound as Marcus Morris looks on during a Celtics-Nets game in January, 2019. –AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The Celtics emerged triumphant over the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors on Wednesday night, winning 117-108 at TD Garden. Kyrie Irving scored 27 and recorded 18 assists, having a hand in Boston’s final 25 points of the night.

Meanwhile, the Bruins were in Philadelphia, where they lost to the Flyers, 4-3.

Gordon Hayward talked about where he is in his recovery: After suffering a gruesome injury on opening night last season, Gordon Hayward has been working tirelessly ever since to get back to where he was: the All-Star free agent that the Celtics courted in the summer of 2017.

But as Hayward admitted in a recent article by Bleacher Report’s Yaron Weitzman, he still has some distance to go. Much of it is down to pure confidence.

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“I think most of that is probably from a lack of confidence in going to the basket and challenging bigs—especially at the beginning of the year,” Hayward told Weitzman of his occasional lack of aggression. “I think that’s the last part that’s not all the way back yet.”

One specific area where the 28-year-old is still building up again is in his jumping.

“Moving horizontally, I’m definitely starting to feel like I felt a couple years ago, but vertically I’m still not as confident as I want to be, and I think some of that is a deterrent when I go to the rim.”

But as Hayward noted, he’s improving all of the time, even if it’s not a purely linear progression. The latest glimpse of good news was on Wednesday night, when Hayward came off the bench to score 18 points in 24 minutes. His efficient shooting and five assists – second on the team behind Kyrie Irving – showcase a glimpse at what the Celtics could start seeing more often.

More from Boston.com:

Stop with the scrappy underdog claims: Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy is not having it with fans (or Patriots players) claiming that “nobody believed in them.”

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“Nobody ever said the Patriots suck and nobody ever said they can’t win games,” wrote Shaughnessy, “but Brady’s charge has played well locally as the ever-defensive and easily slighted Patriot Nation rises with gusto to defend the GOAT and his teammates . . . against a charge that was never levied by anyone in the first place.”

Are you Mike Zarren or Danny Ainge in this GIF? Zarren, the Celtics’ assistant general manager, and Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, had slightly different reactions during the win over the Raptors.

What Julian Edelman’s coaches over the years had to say about him: Not surprisingly, Julian Edelman has always been a clutch performer on the football field. Just ask the coaches he had in high school and college. That’s exactly what WEEI’s Ryan Hannable did.

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The Revolution signed a homegrown player from Hamilton, MA.

Bill Belichick is not impressed.

On this day: In 1971, the Baltimore Colts won Super Bowl V over the Cowboys, 16-13. The game was notable for the late field goal from Colts rookie kicker Jim O’Brien, who nailed the 32-yard attempt to complete Baltimore’s fourth quarter comeback. It also remains the only Super Bowl in which the MVP went to a player (Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley) on the losing team.

Daily highlight: The Celtics showed off elite ball movement prior to Marcus Smart’s finish.

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