DECEMBER 9: Hayward went through the Celtics’ Monday shootaround with the intention of playing tonight, per head coach Brad Stevens (Twitter link).
DECEMBER 8: In a bit of surprising news, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward told reporters today that the fourth metacarpal fracture in his left hand has healed, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston.
Hayward would not rule out a return to game action tomorrow night against the embattled Cavaliers. He did not partake in 5-on-5 scrimmaging with teammates in today’s practice. “Tomorrow’s a possibility,” Hayward said. “See how I feel when I wake up, go through shootaround, see how it goes.”
After signing a four-year, $127.8MM contract with Boston in 2017, Hayward violently broke his tibia and fractured his ankle five minutes into the Celtic’s first game of the 2017/18 season. He returned in the 2018/19 season a far cry from his old All-Star form. His contract began to look like an albatross as Hayward was relegated to a more modest bench role, averaging 11.5 PPG (on 46.6% shooting from the floor), 4.5 RPG and 3.5 APG.
Before his injury this season, Hayward was looking ready to earn a second career All-Star nod. This season, he is averaging 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists a night while shooting 55.5% from the field. Hayward is connecting on 43.3% of his 3.8 triples per contest.
A return this week would be two weeks ahead of the projected six-week recovery time from the surgery he underwent for the fracture on November 11.
The Celtics are 9-4 without Hayward in the lineup, and 16-5 overall. They currently boast the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. Boston’s official Twitter account listed Hayward’s status for tomorrow as “questionable.”
“Motion and strength [are] going to take a little while to get back; it’s whether or not you can play through that and still be effective,” Hayward stressed. “That’s kind of what we’re determining but the bone is healed.”