By Jimmy Golen, AP Sports
BOSTON (AP) — Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward said he considers it “relatively good news” that his latest injury is only expected to keep him out for six weeks, even though it struck just as he was returning to form from the broken leg that cost him almost a full season.
“It’s a drop in the bucket, for sure,” Hayward said on Wednesday night before watching from the bench in street clothes as Boston beat the Wizards 140-133. “Just happy that it shouldn’t be that long. Obviously frustrated. It sucks watching and not being able to go out there and play, especially with the start that we’ve had.”
Hayward broke his hand when he collided with LaMarcus Aldridge in Saturday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. The Boston forward had surgery Monday.
“You always think about the worst-case scenario, and certainly on the play I didn’t know exactly what happened,” he said. “But I heard it, and felt it and knew something immediately was wrong.”
Hayward missed all but five minutes of the 2017-18 season after breaking his leg in the first quarter of the opener. The gruesome injury left his teammates looking away in horror, and Hayward took a year or so before he was even willing to watch it on videotape.
But this one he watched right away — if only to see what went wrong.
“When you watch it in slow motion, it’s like ‘What happened?’ Like, I don’t think anything even should have happened. It doesn’t look like it’s that bad at all,” he said. “It was just a random play. Sometimes that’s basketball.”
Hayward, 29, returned last season and played in 72 games, most of them off the bench, and averaged 11.5 points and 4.5 rebounds — far short of his numbers before the injury. He had been closer to his peak performance in the first seven games this season, averaging 19 points, four assists and a career-high seven rebounds before the latest injury.
“Yeah, it’s frustrating. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “Felt like we were building some good momentum as a team, as well as me individually. So the timing of it, definitely frustrating. All things considered, I think it’s not that bad.”
Another difference between his last injury and this one is that Hayward will be able to run and maintain his conditioning while he waits for his hand to heal. Last time, he was forced to shoot baskets from a chair, and practice picking things up with his toes to regain his dexterity.
Hayward said the doctors put a pin and a plate in his hand, which will make it stronger and help him heal faster. He isn’t sure on his timetable to begin shooting again.
He is allowed to take the splint off to exercise, but there’s a bigger problem: His daughters helped decorate it, and they used the colors of the rival Los Angeles Lakers.
“Some of my favorite things: Puppies, unicorns, rainbows,” Hayward said. “I tried to get them to not use purple and go with some green, but they were pretty adamant about some of the colors they picked. I guess an artist is going to be an artist.”