The Boston Celtics are back in the Eastern Conference Finals, and they’re getting ready to tip off against the Miami Heat tomorrow evening. They’ll have to do so without Gordon Hayward, who they’ve been missing since Game 1 of the playoffs after sustaining a Grade III ankle sprain against the Philadelphia 76ers.
It’s officially been four weeks since he was initially injured, which was the original timeline given for his recovery. Him being ruled out of Game 1 isn’t all bad news, though, because it’s unclear when he’ll be able to retake the court, whether that’s sooner or later. Brad Stevens did have a relatively positive update coming out of practice:
#NEBHInjuryReport Gordon Hayward went through a small group workout after practice today and “looked good,” according to Brad Stevens. Coach added that he’s not sure about an exact return date, but says, “He’s getting better.”— Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 14, 2020
“Getting better” is certainly preferred over “not getting better” if you ask me. While it might be easy to discount the Miami Heat after a grueling seven-game series against the Toronto Raptors, the Celtics could definitely use a Gordon Hayward-sized threat to fight back against the Heat who just dispatched the Milwaukee Bucks and the soon-to-be two-time MVP and first-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Hayward knows how to play the role of zone buster perfectly, and who runs a lot of zone possessions? Miami, of course. The Celtics have enough to beat Miami without Hayward, but just like how it would have been easier to take care of Toronto, it would still be great to have Hayward in the lineup instead of some of the deeper bench players who have had to step up in his absence.
Although Game 1 is out of the question, Game 2 is still fair game, so here’s to hoping that Hayward can jump back into action and start to help the team on the court again.
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat (I’m getting serious 2012 vibes that are making me feel very triggered) tips off tomorrow at 6:30 PM EST on ESPN.