“We’re the best team in the league with Gordon Hayward”
“No one can beat us when we have Hayward”
“It doesn’t matter that we lost. We’re getting Hayward in the playoffs”
“No one will beat us in the playoffs when we have Hayward”
These are the kinds of comments I hate. Focus on the present people. I’ll admit Celtics fans need better comebacks.
Gordon Hayward tops my list of favorite current Celtics. Fans have had their hopes up that Hayward would be back since that moment five minutes into our season opener. But, is it realistic to believe he will be back?
I’m arguing he will not be back until next season.
“He’s not playing this year. I don’t know what else to say.”
Brad Stevens was pretty explicit after getting a barrage of questions on Hayward’s status. That means no playoffs for the forward. But, people still have hope for his return.
“[Hayward is] a super long way away from even being on 1-on-1 workout where he’s cutting.” – Brad Stevens
Stevens may just be trying to downplay Hayward’s recovery to eliminate any questions about the subject, but even so, I’m not questioning his word.
Early in the season, Hayward didn’t have much hope for his return to the court either. He said the Celtics “know I will not be back on the court at all this season”. Although he said this early in the season (November 1st), he looks like he was right.
“[Hayward is] walking fine, but his ankle [is] still swollen and still purpleish” – Chris Mannix, Yahoo Sports, before the All-Star Break
His recovery is going phenomenally, but I don’t think he is on pace to be back for the playoffs. One of the brightest spots of his recovery has been getting started on a machine called the AlterG. It “allows you to rehab without putting your full body weight on your legs”. As of January, he wasn’t able to do a single calf raise with his full body weight. Once he can do a calf raise, he said he will start on an elliptical. He says he’s progressing much faster than expected.
Jeff Van Gundy has not bought Brad Stevens’ comments. “I think he’s playing – late in the year. If they make it to the Finals? I just think he is.” Van Gundy has been known to make unrealistic claims though. Just saying.
“I truly believe before the playoffs are over we’ll see him in a Celtics uniform. I just believe it.” – Mike Gorman
Mike Gorman, play-by-play announcer for the Celtics, believes Hayward will make his comeback this season. He is connected in the Celtics circles, having commentated for a long time, but it is a speculation, not a fact.
Here you have a lot of facts regarding Hayward’s recovery, and for a guy working on his leg and shooting 8-9 hours to day and “religiously working out doing everything they ask of [Hayward] and more”, you would think he will come back for this season. But, unfortunately, it is not looking good for a comeback for this season.
When Hayward does return, Stevens has to change up the lineups a bit. It should be pretty easy; just move Tatum to the second-unit and let Hayward start, not changing any other part of the lineup. But, what about the subs? In the last article, I talked about how Brown and Horford were moved to play with the second unit, and how Tatum had played with the second unit before. But, where would Hayward fit in? Does he play with Tatum to improve Tatum’s game? Does he just replace Tatum in the starting lineup? Where does this big forward fit in with the team? This is not a situation that Stevens cannot experiment with in the playoffs; that would be dangerous.
Would chemistry be an issue? Kyrie and Horford figured things out pretty quickly and got a good game going, which other teams had a problem stopping. Now, Hayward, Kyrie, and Horford would need to figure out how to mesh their games together, along with Jaylen Brown. Hayward is a forward who can shoot good, but not great, and get to the free-throw line. He has quick lateral movement good for defending. Similarly, Horford and Kyrie can both get to the hoop and shoot the ball, with Horford probably being the best shooter, and Kyrie being more efficient. Anyways, trying to mesh their play styles together in the playoffs, is not the best idea.