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Brad Stevens hopeful Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving can play pick-up in August

Less than a month ago, the Boston Celtics were minutes away from their first Finals berth in eight years. However, they lost in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers — a remarkable feat considering they reached that game without injured stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving.

Irving missed the final 15 games of the 2017-18 season and the entire playoffs to repair his left knee. Hayward was injured just five minutes into his debut with the Celtics and did not play again after that. Irving recently told reporters he was “feeling good” in his rehab work and Hayward had surgery on May 30 to remove the plate and screws that were implanted following the broken fibula he suffered on Oct. 17.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe yesterday that Hayward is doing great on his recovery from his injury:

“All success,” Stevens said. “Everything is good and pointed toward being back exactly where he was — hopefully pain-free, because that plate is taken out — in the middle of July, which probably points to an early August, mid August fully cleared time frame.”

Hayward fractured his left ankle in the Celtics’ season-opening loss to the Cavaliers Oct. 17 and missed the entire year. Stevens said Hayward was progressing quite well in his recovery before he began to experience some pain related to the plate in his ankle.

“It was like, ‘Hey, if you’re having this pain and we need to do this, let’s do it now, right?’ ” Stevens said. “And he was working really hard in Indy and he looked really good. Like, he was getting close to being able to do some two-on-two, three-on-three. But he just had a little bit of pain in the back side of his foot and that’s why they decided to remove the plate.”

As for Irving, he told the Boston Herald‘s Mark Murphy that he and the team are hopeful Irving’s recovery will continue to progress and lead to his return to the court sometime in August:

“When we started the season, we were well-aware of the surgery, the hardware in his knee, and we knew we were going to have to manage that appropriately from a practice standpoint — two days on, one day off,” he said. “We had to manage it in games — all of that as the season started. He was doing that really well, and then that wire started irritating him.

“When they removed the screws to make sure he was good from an infection standpoint, he had to take antibiotics and all those things, it was tough. Really tough,” he said. “We were on the west coast trip when he made that call. The threat of infection in that area is real, and the screws had to be removed immediately. He was really down — really down.”

But for Stevens, thoughts of a system featuring both players will soon take shape again.

“I’ve been told they’ll both be going, if not full tilt, then pretty close to full tilt by the end of July, so August first-ish,” said Stevens. “Probably won’t be playing five-on-five at that time, but will be real close. When guys start playing pick-up games, they’ll be in that mix, if they continue on the path they’re on, but there’s no indication they wouldn’t.

“Kyrie came through earlier this week, said he’s feeling fine, and shot and did some things here. But he’s not ready to compete yet — that’s still a ways away. The second surgery for Gordon went great, and he’s here getting treatment every day. Will be cleared to do all he was doing by the middle of July.”