Hayward says he expects to play on opening for Celtics

NBA.com Global on Sep 14, 2018 06:55 AM
Hayward says he expects to play on opening for Celtics
FILE - BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 2: Gordon Hayward #20 and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics talk before the game against the Charlotte Hornets during a preseason game on October 2, 2017 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA.com staff report

A little more than a month, the Boston Celtics' season officially begins against the Philadelphia 76ers. When that game tips off, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward plans to be on the court for it.

Hayward met with the media in Boston today at the Auerbach Center at New Balance World Headquarters to discuss how he's faring in his injury rehab work. He suffered a gruesome,season-ending ankle injury just five minutes into the Celtics' first game last season, but has been hard at work to get ready for the start of the 2018-19 season.

Jeff Goodman of WatchStadium.com reports (via Twitter) that Hayward told the media he fully expects to be playing on opening night without any restrictions.

In addition, Hayward told the media, "I would basically say I'm 100 percent." Hayward said he's still working to get fully back into game shape and that getting his full explosiveness back remains one of the last things he must overcome before the season begins. That all said, Hayward said he has played 5-on-5 for the last two weeks with no restrictions.

"There’s certain things that are going to take time. I’m not 100 percent basketball-wise because I haven’t played in a year,” he said.

Hayward has documented his injury rehab process and workouts via social media and said earlier this summer on his web site that he hoped to be participating in full-court, 5-on-5 workouts by late July. Overall, Boston suffered minimal offseason roster losses among its key rotation players as only center Greg Monroe (who signed with Toronto) and guard Shane Larkin (who will be playing in Turkey) won't be back for 2018-19.

"Watching the guys last year just gave me a lot of confidence in our team and what I think we have the ability to do ... We have a lot of depth and it’s going to be a fun year," Hayward said Thursday.

A week ago, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he is counting on having a fully healthy roster once the Celtics open training camp on Sept. 24. Aside from losing Hayward for essentially the entire 2017-18 season, star guard Kyrie Irving missed the final 15 games of the 2017-18 season and the entire playoffs to repair his left knee.

"I've been told that everybody is going to be ready to go," Stevens said in early September. “It’ll be a great opportunity to start afresh with a brand new team, though we do have a lot of guys back, and see if we can be the best version of ourselves."

Hayward told reporters he is overall happy to be back in the mix with his Boston teammates and is looking forward to the forthcoming season.

“It’s so much fun being able to play again, and play with my teammates," Hayward said Thursday. "Using these past two weeks and the next month or so will be good to kind of get back into the game, feel the rhythm, the timing, different things like that, but it feels pretty good."

Despite the loss of their starting backcourt, the Celtics still advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, falling to the Cavaliers in seven games. Given that LeBron James is now out of the East -- he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, meaning his eight-year run of being on the team that wins the East is ending -- Boston figures to be a popular pick to reach the NBA Finals next season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Latest News