Can Celtics Cope Without Gordon Hayward? NBA Expert Offers Boston Advice


November 12, 2019

Gordon Hayward’s injury represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the Celtics.

Boston expects to be without their star forward for six weeks, as he recovers from surgery he underwent Monday to repair his fractured left hand. Hayward has been key to the Celtics’ red-hot start, and The Athletic’s Zach Harper told SiriusXM NBA Radio on Sunday the C’s can maintain its winning form in the 29-year-old’s absence if his teammates boost their production.

“Gordon has been fantastic, he has been so good for them, so efficient, such a good playmaker, such a good scorer, and now you’ve got to make that up” Harper said. “(Jayson) Tatum has got to pick it up. He’s got to be more of a playmaker and more of a scorer. Jaylen Brown has got to be more of a playmaker, more of a scorer.

“And they’ll have to find someone off the bench. It may not be an easy just one-for-one this is a small forward. It’s going to be some rookies. Maybe Romeo Langford gets a chance, maybe Carsen Edwards gets some more minutes as a point guard, maybe Grant Williams gets to play a little more three (small forward) than a five (center).

“They’re going to have to do that whole ‘next man up’ by committee thing to make up for who’s been a pretty special player so far (this season).”

Hayward averaged 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists in the Celtics’ first eight games. Although one player won’t replace his production, the team effort Harper describes might help absorb the blow of his injury.

Boston passed its first test without Hayward on Monday at TD Garden when it beat the Dallas Mavericks 116-106. Ensuing matchups against the lowly Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings will give Boston’s youngsters a chance to hit their respective strides over the next five days. They’ll need to offer valuable contributions next week when the Celtics visit the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets in what is expected to be a difficult road trip.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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