Pregame Post-Ups: Managing Hayward’s Minutes

Monday, Dec. 9 - Cavaliers at Celtics

Pregame – Managing Hayward’s Minutes Upon Return

BOSTON – After being sidelined for one month with a broken left hand, Gordon Hayward is finally ready to return to the court. Celtics coach Brad Stevens revealed this evening that his veteran wing will be back in Boston’s starting rotation as it hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers inside TD Garden.

The left metacarpal in Hayward’s left hand is completely healed and stabilized, though the Celtics will still be cautious in managing his return given that he hasn’t seen any live-game action since Nov. 9.

“There’s no set time,” Stevens said in regard to any minutes restriction for Hayward. “But any time that you’re coming back and not having played an NBA game in four weeks – as you could imagine, you just manage it appropriately. He’s done a good job of staying in shape and he’s worked hard at that. But it will still hit him early.”

The fortunate part of Hayward’s injury was that it did not impact his ability to remain mobile, so he’s kept up with his conditioning over the past month.

“Even before he could catch, they were doing 5-on-0 with an imaginary ball running up and down the court,” Stevens described. “They were acting like they were throwing the ball around. So were moving and getting up and down, and that’s been great conditioning.”

Still, none of that compares to playing in a real game against a team playing at full force. That’s why the C’s coaching staff will keep a close eye on Hayward and possibly stagger his minutes in a way that allows him to catch his wind.

“We’re not going to play him 38 (minutes) tonight by any means but you just have to be alert to that,” Stevens said. “But we will try to get him so that it also gets stretched a little bit, just to get back in it. But I’m not too concerned about that right now. I mean, I think he’ll be fine. He’ll be breathing heavy at the first media timeout, but after that, he should be good to go.”

- Taylor Snow

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