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Rejuvenated Gordon Hayward Adds Left Hand Fracture to His Unpropitious Celtics Tenure

Third-year Celtic suffers left-hand fracture during yesterdays 20-point victory over the San Antonio Spurs, first in nearly a decade.

Yesterday evening’s 135-115 Celtics win over the San Antonio Spurs was perhaps the season’s most impressive and perhaps calamitous with the unfortunate left-hand fracture suffered by third-year small forward Gordon Hayward.

Not even having reached the double-digit mark for games played, and already we’re notching the second Gordon Hayward injury within his Boston Celtics tenure.

Hayward ran into Spurs 6-foot, 11-inch power forward, LaMarcus Aldridge with 1:34 remaining in the second quarter, as Hayward was blindsided by an Aldridge screen set for Dejounte Murray. A collision with the 260-pound big himself in Aldridge, that left Hayward shaken up and to the tunnel for further examination with Celtics medical officials.

Shortly after walking off the floor in San Antonio, the Boston Celtics tweeted out “#NEBHInjuryReport Gordon Hayward has been diagnosed with a left hand fracture after an x-ray examination and is out for the remainder of tonight’s game against San Antonio”.

Coming at an extremely unfortunate time for what appeared to be a fully rejuvenated and back-to-form Gordon Hayward who went down after averaging 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists through eight games played this season. Hayward’s rebound and assist averages were team-leading averages, not to mention, Hayward collected two 20-point/10-rebound nights. In his first 73 games played with the Celtics, he hadn’t notched a single 20+, 10+ performance.

However, you don’t even need to look at the numbers to see this was a re-invented, Utah-vintage Gordon Hayward to kickoff the 2019-20 season. Oppose to just 8.8 field-goal attempts per-game, Hayward has adopted a more aggressive takeover mentality, much like his Jazz days. Those shot attempts rose to 13.8 per game, just a pair shy of his career-high from Utah. Again, numbers aside, just watching Gordon Hayward went to show you that his off-season regimine was no joke. Hayward’s attack to the baskets and ball distribution, getting guys clean and open looks came with no hesitation, unlike last season. Against the Cavaliers alone back November 5, Hayward was dominant all across the board with 39, completely running the floor in Cleveland with 20 field-goal attempts on 85% percent shooting. His highest prior to that was 16 back in March of last season against the Golden State Warriors.

Gordon Hayward’s 2019-20 Celtics game log via Basketball Reference.

Of course, there’s a major difference between those two. That being consistency. It wasn’t far fetched or beyond the realm of possibilities to set a 15ish points per game bar for Hayward in a team in which better suits his game style. Working off the perimeter, Hayward’s gained a sense of freedom with this Kemba-led Celtics team where he’s able to get shots off from the mid, three, and even open the floor for himself with the ball in his hands. We didn’t see that last season with guards Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier pitifully attempting to run the floor, “facilitating” that ball to teammates, which ultimately made Hayward a poor product of a dysfunctional system. One which subjected the former NBA All-Star to a watered-down Cavalier Kevin Love with fewer looks from the outside, and a lot more spectating.

Hayward’s eight games to start 2019 had his name creeping up the comeback player of the year ballot early. Not only was Hayward scoring at a consistent rate, but he was also perhaps the upmost efficient player in Brad Stevens’ rotation- averaging 44.4 percent from the 3, and 56.4 percent from the field. That’s a 62.4 percent effective field-goal percentage which is the best in Hayward’s NBA career. A true embodiment of what the naysayers neglected in his Utah Jazz tenure, and what Danny Ainge signed the Celtics up for in that July 2017 meeting.

As for now, hoping for the best is all that’s left in what appears to be yet another hurdle for Hayward in getting back to 100 percent. Best case scenario, the Celtics lose Hayward for a month to a month and a half and fill his void through Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Next man up!

Photo: (USAToday.com)

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