Celtics forward Gordon Hayward says he could return from his left fractured hand as early as Monday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Tomorrow is a possibility,” a smiling Hayward said Sunday at the Auerbach Center. “We’ll see how I feel when I wake up and go through shootaround.”
Hayward returned to practice Sunday for the first time since suffering the injury in the second quarter of a game against the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 9. Coach Brad Stevens said Hayward participated in all of practice, though the light session did not include any live segments or 5-on-5. Stevens did not specify a return date for Hayward, only saying that he expects him to return “sooner than later.”
Even if he does play Monday, Hayward expects he’ll be instinctively protecting his hand a bit.
“It’s definitely something I’m still guarding,” he said. “It’s going to be like that for a little while, just natural. Part of that is getting out there and playing and just getting over it mentally.”
Re-injury, however, does not seem to be a concern.
Hayward, who underwent surgery on Nov. 11, said the bone in his left hand is completely healed. He still anticipates soreness, but the plate and screws inserted during the procedure have strengthened his left hand to the point that he said it’s “probably stronger” than his right. Hayward noted the hardware will not be removed unless there are unforeseen complications.
“The bone is healed,” Hayward. “I can’t do anything that’s going to hurt — I’m going to have to get it hit equally as hard, probably more than last time because I have the metal in my hand now. My bone is healed. I can’t hurt it worse.”
In other injury news, center Robert Williams missed practice with a sore left hip. Stevens called Williams “probably doubtful, possibly out” for Monday’s game.