Pregame Post-Ups: Hayward Takes Giant Step Toward Recovery

Wednesday, Dec. 13 - Nuggets at Celtics

Pregame – Hayward Takes Giant Step Toward Recovery

BOSTON – Celtics wing Gordon Hayward took a giant step toward recovery Wednesday, by removing the walking boot that had been protecting his surgically repaired left leg.

The All-Star suffered a gruesome ankle dislocation and tibia fracture on Opening Night and had been projected to miss the entire season as a result.

The fact that the boot has been taken off less than two months after the injury occurred is a promising sign, but Celtics coach Brad Stevens is not ready to deviate from the initial projection of Hayward’s return.

“It’s another box to check,” Stevens said Wednesday evening before hosting the Denver Nuggets at TD Garden. “There’s a big difference between getting out of a boot and playing in an NBA game, though.”

Hayward is not planning to rush back to the court anytime soon, but he remains optimistic about potentially suiting up later this season.

The thought of returning, "Is definitely in the back of my mind,” Hayward recently told the Boston Globe. “I'm definitely pushing to get back as fast as I can, while making sure that I still have a lot of good years of basketball in me. And coming back early and hurting something else is not part of that plan. So I'm making sure that if I come back, I'm 1,000 percent confident in myself and my leg.”

While returning this season is an extremely lofty objective, Stevens is inspired by Hayward’s unwavering hope.

“He’s got a long way to go, but it’s good that he has these things as goals,” said Stevens. “He keeps checking them off and he’s working really diligently at it. He feels good about that and that’s a good thing.”

- Taylor Snow