Hayward Suffers Head Injury in Indy, But Hopeful for Thursday
INDIANAPOLIS – Gordon Hayward can’t seem to catch a break. While facing the Pacers Wednesday night in what was just his second game back from a monthlong injury absence, the Celtics wing took a blow to the nose, which knocked him straight to the floor and then out of the game.
While driving to the rim with 6:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, Hayward was inadvertently struck square in the nose by the base of Doug McDermott's palm. Hayward hit the hardwood and stayed down on one knee for a couple of minutes while on-site medical personal tended to him, before being escorted back into the visitor’s locker room at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. He would remain in that location, undergoing testing for the rest of the night, while his Celtics dropped a 122-117 contest to put an end to their four-game winning streak.
"I just got hit in the nose and immediately couldn't really see much and felt pretty dizzy,” Hayward later recalled of the injury from inside the visitor’s locker room. “I think because of that, I had to come back here and go through the concussion [testing] and make sure that everything was OK."
Coach Brad Stevens said that Hayward didn’t show any concussion symptoms through the opening stages of his testing, though he will undergo further examination upon his return to Boston.
Another positive takeaway was that Hayward did not break his nose, despite being the victim of what appeared to be a forceful blow.
"I still have a pretty good headache right now, but hopefully by tomorrow it should be good,” Hayward said. “So, we'll see tomorrow morning."
Hayward’s absence was missed throughout the remainder of the contest. Boston was leading 100-96 at the time of his departure, before allowing Indiana to close out on a 26-17 run. The Celtics were also without Jaylen Brown for part of that run, as he fouled out with 1:59 remaining. Though, Stevens wouldn’t use either of their absences to excuse the loss.
“No question you want to have your best guys available at the end of the game,” Stevens said. “But that start of the fourth quarter with all those turnovers and the way we were getting outplayed – that second unit really took it to us. The first half we were up nine, then they took it to us and got that lead for them. Same exact story in the second (half). Hats off to those guys.”
Boston’s main issue was matching Indiana’s physicality without fouling. The C’s committed 27 personal fouls to Indiana’s 18, which resulted in a free-throw differential of 14 favoring the Pacers.
“I think they set the tone for the game,” said Brown, who logged 18 points, eight rebounds and a career-high eight assists before fouling out. “They’re a physical team and we didn’t match it. We were trying to play from behind, and the refs were just calling the game accordingly. We’ve gotta do a better job of setting the tone with physicality. Especially (being) a small team, we’ve got to do a better job of playing physical without fouling.”
The C’s will have to correct that issue quickly, as they are set to face Philadelphia – one of the most physical teams in the league – in less than 24 hours.
“I think it was a good test for us,” Brown said of facing Indiana’s physicality. “We knew that coming in. Obviously we wanted to win tonight, but we’ve got to focus on tomorrow when we’ve got even more of a test. (Indiana big man Domantas) Sabonis is physical, but (Philadelphia’s Joel) Embiid is even more physical – especially an aggressive Embiid, so we’ve got to rotate. And I think playing on our home floor, we get an extra bit of energy, an extra kick. Our fans get behind us, so I think we’ll be alright.”
Hayward hopes to be joining Brown and the rest of his teammates when they take the parquet floor, as long as he’s able to pass through the rest of his concussion testing successfully.
“We'll see how it goes tomorrow,” he stated optimistically. “Hopefully everything's back to normal."