BOSTON — Two seasons ago, Gordon Hayward was one of the best two-way players in the NBA.
During the 2016-17 season, the star forward averaged 21.9 points per game while shooting 47.1 percent from the floor and 39.8 percent from 3-point range.
But after missing all of last season with the fractured tibia and dislocated ankle he suffered on Opening Night, Hayward has yet to find the explosive game he had when he was in Utah.
The Butler product was more aggressive in the Celtics’ 128-95 demolishing of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, scoring 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting. Hayward noted he still does things differently than the “Old G,” but he believes it comes down to his mindset and watching film to see what he can and can’t do.
Hayward revealed he does go back and watch film from his Utah days, partially to remind himself what he can do but also because that’s the only film he has against certain teams.
“No, I think I have to look back at that a little bit,” Hayward said. “You know, watching the film to see what the right play is, what I was capable of, what I can still do and it’s good to look at film of good games and bad games. I think sometimes depending on who we are playing — since I didn’t play last year the only film I have of playing against that other team is when I was in Utah.
“Certain teams, certain players cover things differently, guard you differently and me defending those players, everybody has tendencies so sometimes that’s the only film I have of myself to look at.”
The 28-year-old was a star in Utah and the Celtics are hopeful he can get back to the elite level he once played at. And Friday night was a big step toward finding that form.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images