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Celtics’ Gordon Hayward insists that he’s ‘fine’

Gordon Hayward, Celtics

Gordon Hayward has had a less-than-desirable return to the court after missing the near-entirety of the 2017-18 season with a freak injury. The Boston Celtics forward has been relegated to the bench, and he has failed to regain the star status he previously had when he first signed with the team in the offseason of 2017.

Hayward is averaging a mere 10.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists through 58 games this year, numbers that are dwarfed by his performance with Utah in 2016-17:

“I can’t worry about numbers,” said Hayward, according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. “I’ve got to focus on winning plays.”

Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison, who has worked with Hayward for most of his recovery, is hopeful the forward can surpass his former best, but it will look vastly different from the 20-point scorer he became in his last year with the Jazz:

“Talent-wise, skill-wise, he can be better than he was — and I hope he is,” Morrison said. “But it’s not going to look the same. So I hope people don’t compare his stat line in Utah to this year or next year. Instead, watch how he impacts the game.”

Hayward was at first hesitant to seek contact, but now he feels more comfortable exploding off his injured leg and driving into the defense.

He is looking to challenge bigs again and absorbing contact. His ankle is not completely pain-free, but the soreness is now predictable and treatable with ice and Ibuprofen:

“I’m fine,” said Hayward.

“Fine” could be interpreted in many ways, but regardless of the meaning in mind, there is no such thing as fine with the Boston Celtics this season, who look as disjointed and unrecognizable as they ever have under Brad Stevens.