Pregame Post-Ups: Horford Sidelined with Wrist Sprain

Sunday, Sept. 30 - Hornets at Celtics

Pregame – Horford Sidelined, Hayward Feeling 100 Percent

BOSTON – Game 1 of the preseason did not come without its share of bumps and bruises for the Boston Celtics. Al Horford sprained his right wrist Friday night during Boston’s 104-97 loss to the Charlotte Hornets in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and as a result, he will be sidelined for Sunday evening’s rematch in Boston.

The good news that Coach Brad Stevens shared Sunday afternoon is that it does not appear to be a serious injury.

“Al’s feeling a little bit better as we inch toward game time, but he won’t play,” Stevens told the media inside TD Garden ahead of Game 2. “I would say it’s a wrist sprain – I don’t know exactly the level – but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to cut into any of the early part of the season.”

Horford injured the wrist during the first quarter Friday night and it got sorer as the contest went on. He sat out during the second half and has been rehabbing it over the last two days, but Stevens believes he could return to action by Tuesday when the C’s host the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Aron Baynes, who started 79 regular season and playoff games for the Celtics last season, will take Horford’s place at the 5-spot to start alongside Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward.

Speaking of Hayward, his first game back from last year’s season-ending ankle injury went about as well as anyone could have hoped. The 28-year-old wing tallied 10 points, three rebounds, one assist, one block and zero turnovers over 23 minutes in what was his first live-game action since Oct. 17, 2017.

More importantly, Stevens reports that Hayward has “had no issues” with his surgically-repaired ankle during the first week of preseason play. The next step for Hayward, says Stevens, is regaining his basketball habits.

“Offensively and defensively he’s still feeling it out again,” said the coach. “He was just figuring it out when we headed to Cleveland for Game 1 last year – it probably took him as much time as anybody. And now he’s had a year he hasn’t played, so it’s going to be a process.”

Hayward is more than ready to tackle that process, and he’ll continue his comeback Sunday evening as he plays his first game inside TD Garden since last preseason.

- Taylor Snow