Gordon Hayward injury update: Celtics star could return from broken hand on Monday vs. Cavaliers

The Boston Celtics have gotten off to a terrific start this season, and at 16-5 sit in second place in the Eastern Conference behind only the dominant Milwaukee Bucks. What's even more impressive is that they've played so well despite being without their star swingman Gordon Hayward for much of the campaign. 

His absence will be coming to an end soon, however, and perhaps as early as Monday night when the Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers. Early on Sunday afternoon, Hayward told reporters that it's a "possibility" he plays in that game. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the team's trainers will make an official decision tomorrow based on how Hayward is feeling, but added that no matter what, Hayward's return is coming "sooner than later." A short time later, the team officially listed Hayward on the injury report as questionable.

Hayward hasn't played since Nov. 9 against the San Antonio Spurs, when he was hit with an illegal screen by LaMarcus Aldridge, and somehow fractured his hand in the collision. At the time, the Celtics announced that Hayward would be out for six weeks after undergoing surgery, but he is clearly ahead of schedule. 

Injuries to any player, at any time, are never good news, but Hayward going down with a broken hand when he did was especially disheartening. After suffering a horrific leg injury on opening night back in 2017, Hayward struggled mightily in his return to the court last season. He was a step slow, couldn't get his shot going and eventually had to be removed from the Celtics' starting lineup. Through the first few weeks of this campaign, however, he finally looked like his old self again, only to go down with another injury right when he was picking up steam.

It would be fitting, then, if Hayward returns against the Cavaliers. Not only did he suffer that season-ending injury against them two years ago, but his dominant performance against them earlier this season was the game that firmly established he was back. Shooting 17 of 20 from the field, Hayward tied a career high with 39 points, and secured the win with a huge offensive rebound and putback late in the fourth quarter. 

Through his first eight games, Hayward was averaging 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, while shooting 43.3 percent from 3. There might be some slight turbulence as Hayward gets back into game shape, and the Celtics re-integrate him into the lineup, but he wasn't out that long, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Besides, any slight disruption to their flow will be overpowered by the boost that Hayward's additional scoring and playmaking gives them. 

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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