Pregame Post-Ups: What Hayward’s Return Could Mean for Celtics
Saturday, September 19 - Game 3 - Celtics at Heat
Pregame – What Hayward’s Return Could Mean for Celtics
The Boston Celtics were in need of a pick-me-up after dropping the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat.
Tonight, they got one.
The team announced shortly before Game 3 tip-off that Gordon Hayward, after missing four-and-a-half weeks with a right ankle sprain, has been cleared to play. The veteran wing will come off the bench, according to Celtics coach Brad Stevens, and his minutes will be monitored; though, his presence alone should be of great aid for a team that is looking to dig its way out of a significant hole.
“He’s coming back from a four-and-a-half-week break, so we don’t expect him to be a world-beater, but his presence helps us,” Stevens assured.
What, exactly, will Hayward’s presence provide for the Celtics?
“Everything you’ve seen all year,” answered Stevens. “He’s a great passer, he can score the ball, he can switch all the defensive positions, so he gives us a lot of defensive flexibility there. He just gives us a lot, and he’s always been a guy who provides a great sense of stability.”
In case you forgot, Hayward was one of Boston’s most consistent and well-rounded players this season, having averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from 3-point range. On top of that, he had been playing some of his best basketball prior to his injury, putting forth 18.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 3.9 APG inside the NBA Bubble before getting injured in Game 1 of the first round against Philadelphia.
It can’t be expected that Hayward will provide such production right off the bat, but simply having another versatile, All-Star-caliber wing available should provide Boston with an immense boost on both ends of the floor.
The Celtics needed a pick-me-up heading into Game 3, and they got one. Now, let’s see what Hayward’s presence will do for Boston as it looks to bounce back against Miami.
- Taylor Snow