BOSTON (CBS) — Gordon Hayward wasn’t expected to return to game action until Christmas Day. It appears Christmas is coming early for Hayward and the Boston Celtics.
Hayward said following Sunday’s practice that the bone in his left hand is fully healed, and a return Monday night when the Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers is a “possibility.”
“The last couple of days have been really good,” Hayward told reporters. “[Monday is] a possibility.”
Hayward hasn’t played since Nov. 9 when he broke a bone in his left hand during a Celtics win in San Antonio. He underwent surgery two days later, and his original timetable put a return around Boston’s tilt in Toronto on Christmas Day.
But Hayward has been ramping up his work at practice over the last few weeks, and after taking part in Boston’s practice on Sunday, the forward is way ahead of schedule.
“I can’t do anything that’s going to hurt it,” Hayward said of his left hand, which he injured while trying to run through a screen set by San Antonio big man LaMarcus Aldridge. “I’m going to have to get hit equally as hard, probably harder than last time because I have the metal in my hand now.
“It’s definitely something I’m still guarding, and it’s going to be like that for a little while,” he added. “That’s only natural. But part of that is getting out there and playing and getting over it mentally. I have gotten a hit – it reacted normally to that.”
An official decision won’t be made by C’s head coach Brad Stevens and Boston’s medical staff until close to game time on Monday, but Stevens admitted Sunday that a Hayward return would happen “sooner than later.”
Hayward was off to a hot start before getting hurt, averaging 18.9 points off 56 percent shooting, 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists in his first eight games.