After a pair of losses to the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Celtics have some good news coming their way.
Forward Gordon Hayward will rejoin the team in the NBA’s bubble in Orlando on Sunday.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters Saturday that Hayward is still not expected to play “anytime soon.”
Hayward suffered a grade III right ankle sprain in the Celtics’ Game 1 victory over the 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. The team announced the following day, Aug. 18, that Hayward was expected to miss approximately four weeks. Sept. 15 will mark exactly four weeks since the team’s announcement, which is four days after the Celtics’ scheduled Game 7 against the Raptors (Sept. 11).
Gordon Hayward being helped off the court after appearing to injure his ankle. pic.twitter.com/ePanph0cwZ
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) August 18, 2020
Hayward will be subjected to a four-day quarantine when he re-enters the bubble due to the NBA’s protocol. He will resume rehabbing with the team once his quarantine is over.
This may not be the last time that Hayward leaves the bubble. Prior to the season restarting, Hayward said that he would leave the bubble for the birth of his son, who is due sometime in September.
Hayward’s wife, Robyn, joked about Hayward not being the only boy in the Hayward household the next time he’s with his family.
“Another see you soon!” Robyn wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday. “Love you @GordonHayward and so do your crazy girls! Next time we see you you won’t be the only boy”
Looks like Gordon Hayward is headed back to the bubble: pic.twitter.com/EeIm1cxVLQ
— Boston.com Celtics News (@BDCCeltics) September 7, 2020
Hayward, who’s the Celtics’ fourth-leading scorer with 17.5 points per game this season, has been sorely missed in the Celtics’ series against the Raptors. The team only had three double-digit scorers in their Game 4 100-93 loss, which saw the Raptors playing several different zone defenses to give Kemba Walker and Jayston Tatum tougher shots.
Hayward’s passing game has been missed, too. He’s averaging four assists per game this season, which is the third-best on the Celtics this season. The Celtics have failed to reach their 23 assists per game average during the regular season in their last three games, dishing out 18, 21 and 18 assists in Games 2, 3 and 4, respectively.
The Celtics already know that they won’t get Hayward back against the Raptors, but if they can survive the recent momentum surge, Hayward’s possible return in the Eastern Conference Finals will be welcomed.
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