Gordon Hayward isn’t having the season many expected him to, but he’s been an important part to the Boston Celtics all year — especially the last few games.
As you may remember, the forward suffered a gruesome leg and ankle injury in his first game in a Celtics uniform just minutes after tip-off. He spent the year rehabbing and getting his leg back to full strength in order to be ready for Boston’s first game this year.
After a slow start, Hayward found himself in a new, unfamiliar role: a reserve player.
Many began to wonder if his contract was worth having him come off the bench every night and only starting in someone’s absence. But Hayward has proven to be an integral part of the team and he’s really come into form of late. His shooting percentages have increased each month since December and had 15 points in the Celtics’ 120-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.
“I try not to judge my performance based on if I’m shooting the ball well or not, but I think I’ve been aggressive in each of the games (on this trip),” Hayward told The Athletic’s Jay King. “I’ve definitely made winning plays for our team and the thing I am most aware of is that we’ve won in all three of them. They definitely haven’t all been pretty. Each one of them has been different, but we’ve found a way to win and that’s important. Hopefully, we can close this trip out with a win too. The next game is going to be really tough.”
Hayward has been playing some of his best basketball during Boston’s West Coast road trip, including nailing a buzzer-beating game-winner against the Sacramento Kings and going 6-for-8 shooting off the bench against Los Angeles.
The C’s will need Hayward to continue this strong stretch when they try to close out the trip out west with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. They also will try to sweep the road trip.
Thumbnail photo via Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY Sports Images