After what Gordon Hayward has gone through over the last year, it would be impossible for him to return to peak form right away.
Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is well aware of that, and has planned accordingly as a result.
The C’s will kick off their regular season Tuesday against the Philadelphia 76ers. And while Hayward very much will be involved Tuesday and beyond, it will be at a more modest volume for at least the first few weeks of the season.
During Monday’s media availability, Stevens noted that he will have Hayward on a 25-minutes per-game restriction.
“I thought last week was his best week, as you would expect,” Stevens said of Hayward, via NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg. “Obviously his back feels better and a little more comfortable as you move on, so he’ll be a little bit restricted from a minutes standpoint as we progress through this early part of the season, but that’s just to make sure we ramp it back up so that he’s feeling great toward the end of the year and the years beyond. It’s hard to go from not playing (for 12 months) to playing the schedule that we’re playing.”
The grind of an 82-game regular season is sure to test Hayward from a physical standpoint, but it sounds like the Celtics are doing everything they can to make sure he’s eased back into things while still being an important contributor.
Hayward has been pretty candid about his mindset throughout the whole process, and he noted Monday that he is a little anxious for Opening Night.