Gordon Hayward is on the mend.
The Boston Celtics forward has been out since he fractured his hand Nov. 9 against the San Antonio Spurs. But Hayward, now without a cast, attended Celtics practice Tuesday as he continues to near a return to game action.
“It went well, played a little hybrid contact today with coaches and stuff,” Hayward said at Auerbach Center. “It’s definitely sore, and I think that’s something I gotta work through. I gotta work through that to make my hand stronger, and over the next couple of days I can do that. … We have some good days here at home where I can practice and really do the things I wanna do, and kind of feel it out and see how it responds. Did a lot on it today, so I think it’s gonna be more sore, might swell up.”
As for the next steps, Hayward is hoping to distance himself from the actual rehab process and begin playing real basketball.
“Start ramping up the live stuff that I’m doing, the contact situations. Making things less structured — today was a lot more structured, so I kinda know what’s going on and prepare for it. In a game you can’t do that. … It’s one thing to dribble and pass with it, it’s another to have somebody coming at you full-speed that you gotta put your arm on and keep him off the glass.”
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The Celtics have played well without Hayward, going 7-4 while still looking like one of the best team’s in the Eastern Conference. However, Hayward looked like his old self early in the season, and there’s no question Boston is at its best when he’s heavily involved.
The 14-5 Celtics will return to the court Wednesday night when they host the Miami Heat.