Hayward Continues to Progress Through Concussion Protocol

PHILADELPHIA – While the Celtics are busy in Philadelphia preparing to take on the 76ers Wednesday night, Gordon Hayward is busy back home in Boston, where he is currently working his way through the stages of the NBA’s concussion protocol.

Late in the first quarter of Boston’s 129-120 win over Atlanta Saturday afternoon, Hayward’s head collided with the chest of Hawks forward John Collins as Collins was setting a screen. Hayward immediately left the game and was sent home at halftime feeling woozy, according to C’s coach Brad Stevens.

The following day, Hayward was placed into the league’s concussion protocol, and he has made some solid progress since.

“He did a pretty lengthy workout on the treadmill yesterday, and so that was a pretty good sign,” Stevens reported Wednesday morning ahead of shootaround at Wells Fargo Center. “And with the way that it works is then you go 24 hours and then get reassessed. Every indication is that he felt OK today, but he will go to the doctor in Boston today, and then if he’s cleared to go, he’ll go through the next steps and keep on going.”

Stevens went on to add that he hopes Hayward will be able to join the team in Charlotte for its game against the Hornets Saturday night, though, if he needs more time recover it will obviously be granted.

The timing of Hayward’s injury is tough in that it came while he was in the midst of one of his better stretches of the season. Over the five games leading up to the collision, he had averaged 15 points per game on 62.5 percent shooting from the field and 42.9 percent shooting from 3-point range.

It marked the second time in the past month that an injury disrupted a positive stretch of his, as Hayward also missed time after twisting his ankle during All-Star break. That incident occurred right after a strong, five-game run of his, which included averages of 17 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.

Since that particular stretch beginning on Feb. 5, the Celtics have outscored opponents by 88 points while Hayward has been on the court. No other Celtic during that span has accumulated a plus/minus rating greater than plus-39.

It’s largely because of Hayward’s presence, as well as the resurgence of Jaylen Brown, that Boston’s bench unit has been able to excel lately.

“I just think that he can be a complementary guy with those guys,” Stevens said of Hayward’s impact on the second unit. “We’ve talked about how you can run actions with him and the ball and he can make the next right play. He’s OK to make the next right play, and if he draws two he’s going to deliver the pass. And then, I think, as he’s gotten more comfortable this year, his defense has gotten a lot better, and ultimately, he’s another 6-(foot)-8, 6-9 guy who can switch and do those things.”

It’s vital to have that type of presence coming off the bench, as long as Hayward can stay healthy.

“It’s really unique to his career,” Stevens said of Hayward’s string of injuries, “because he’d missed very few games coming into his time here, and obviously last year missed the whole season. But you never rush him back from this. It has to be cleared through the league. There’s a reason why we have the protocols and I’m glad we do. But it’s not a ton of games (that he’ll miss) as it stands right now. So, ultimately, he’s got plenty of time to regain that rhythm, assuming that he can play soon.”

The hope is that he’ll be back in action by Saturday night, and that he’ll be able to maintain good health throughout the remainder of the season.

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