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Celtics’ Gordon Hayward leaves NBA bubble after spraining ankle

Gordon Hayward, Celtics

Boston Celtics swingman Gordon Hayward has officially left the Orlando bubble as he rehabs from a sprained ankle suffered in Game 1 of the team’s first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Hayward departed the bubble on Friday, though the hope is the 30-year-old will be able to return once the ankle is fully healthy, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews.

However, the ankle injury is not the only thing weighing on Hayward’s mind, at present.

Hayward and his wife, Robyn, are due to have their fourth child in September. Hayward said he is trying to play things by ear, though he is mostly focused on the daily routines of getting healthy.

Via Tim Bontemps of ESPN:

“I think it’s two separate things,” Hayward said, referring to his injury and the impending family addition, “but it’s something I’m taking a look at. It’s just very unfortunate of the timing of the whole deal, so I think I’m just trying to take it day by day, and we’re looking at scheduling for the baby and all that stuff, so it’s taking it day by day.”

The Celtics have managed to plow ahead without Hayward.

Boston will go for the sweep against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, putting them on the fast track for a matchup with the second-seeded Toronto Raptors.

But while the Celtics have had little issue beating a compromised Sixers team, it bears wondering whether Hayward’s absence will loom larger against a stout defensive team such as the Raptors.

Hayward has been a vital scoring option, floor spacer and playmaker on the wing, an area of immense importance given Toronto packs the paint and forces contested 3-pointers.

Questions abound for both Hayward and the Celtics. But Stevens and Co. hope he can return to the bubble as soon as possible.