Hayward is Progressing Toward Early Return To Lineup

NEW YORK – It’s time to ramp up the Gordon Hayward talk. It sounds like the forward will be back in action sooner rather than later.

Hayward suffered a fractured left hand Nov. 9 and underwent surgery two days later to repair the bone. He accompanied the Celtics to New York for their current two-game road trip in the Big Apple and is lightly participating in practices, including Saturday’s session at Basketball City in Manhattan.

“It’s good to see him moving around,” said head coach Brad Stevens. “They just did a bunch of up-and-down where basically (they ran) 5-on-0 stuff, so that’s good.”

Stevens said that Hayward is currently cleared to run up and down the court and to participate in non-contact drills.

Hayward himself spoke about his progress Friday morning, before the Celtics took on the Nets. He went as far as to say, “I feel like I’m ahead of schedule,” according to MassLive.com. The initial timeline for Hayward’s return from surgery was approximately six weeks.

Hayward said that he continues to work toward an early return but is unable to put a timetable on exactly when he’ll be able to play in games.

“I mean, it’s hard to say with these things exactly what the timeline is,” Hayward told reporters. “But like I said, I feel good, and most importantly I’ve been able to continue with my leg work and stuff like that, so that’s really important.”

The forward, who averaged 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists through Boston’s first eight games of the season, joined the team for this road trip in part because of his advancement in the rehab process. However, Stevens clarified another reason as to why Hayward was brought on this trip but not on Boston’s five-game, 10-day trip that came to an end Nov. 23.

“All of our trainers are here and everything else,” Stevens commented. “When we were out West, he had a couple of appointments he had to go to and everything else. It didn’t make sense to bounce all over the place.”

Stevens said that Hayward will be with the Celtics on every trip moving forward until he can officially return to the lineup.

Hayward is scheduled to have another meeting with his doctor Monday over FaceTime, according to Stevens. That purpose of that meeting will be “to look at the healing process and assess what’s next,” the coach said.

For now, Hayward will continue to work out within his current restrictions, and hope that they will soon be lifted to allow him to return to game action.

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