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Gordon Hayward injury levels the playing field for Sixers vs. Celtics, claims Paul Pierce

Gordon Hayward, Paul Pierce, Celtics

The Boston Celtics took Game 1 of their first-round matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, but the win came at a cost. Swingman Gordon Hayward suffered an ankle sprain, placing him on the shelf for at least four weeks.

Now, according to former Celtics great Paul Pierce, the injury might also open things up for a potential Sixers comeback.

“I think it’s a huge blow. When you look down at that roster, there’s not much depth — Marcus Smart, Enes Kanter… The bench scored 8 points in Game 1. You know how much they won by? Eight points,” Pierce said during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” Wednesday morning, via Dave Green of NBC Sports Boston.

“That’s a critical blow for them to lose that point production, a guy who can spread the floor, who can knock down shots, a guy who can get the ball and play pick-and-roll. Yes, (Jayson) Tatum and (Jaylen) Brown’s numbers will go up, but I think with his injury, it’s going to level the playing field with Philadelphia. They didn’t win by much and the Celtics don’t have a deep bench, so this series could be a long series for Boston.”

Hayward struggled with his shot in Game 1, scoring just 12 points in over 34 minutes. However, he supplied playmaking in other areas, tallying four rebounds, four steals and three assists. Hayward’s length and ability to play both on and off the ball make him an invaluable member of the Celtics’ rotation.

The advanced numbers also support Pierce’s argument. Boston was over three points better per 100 possessions with Hayward on the floor, per Basketball Reference, and they were also nearly a point better on the defensive end.

It remains to be seen if Paul Pierce is right about the impact of the Gordon Hayward injury, but Celtics fans are certainly hoping he is not.