Celtics news: Gordon Hayward 'looked good' in practice ahead of game vs. Bulls
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Celtics’ Gordon Hayward ‘looked good’ in practice, will be re-evaluated before game vs. Bulls

Gordon Hayward, Celtics

The Boston Celtics played their first post-All-Star break game without Gordon Hayward, losing 98-97 to the Milwaukee Bucks. However, they might not need to go much further without him:

Hayward is feeling confident he’ll play:

Gordon Hayward has had an up-and-down season with the Celtics after he missed essentially all of last season with a devastating leg injury. He has had some breakout games, but he has struggled to find any consistency.

That being said, he closed out the unofficial first half of the season extremely strong, averaging 21.0 points, 4.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds in his final three games.

This latest ankle injury briefly derailed that momentum, but it appears there’s no reason to fret. The fact that he’s feeling good ahead of the Celtics’ contest against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday is a sign he might be ready to return to the court.

The Celtics are currently 37-22 and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. They’re only a game back from the fourth-place Philadelphia 76ers and 1.5 games back from the third-place Indiana Pacers.

At the same time, Boston is 7.5 games ahead of the sixth-place Brooklyn Nets.

With the Celtics effectively guaranteed to finish no worse than the No. 5 spot, they have their eyes on getting up to No. 4 or No. 3 in order to have home-court advantage in at least the first round. Getting Hayward back and playing at a high level could make a huge difference.

However, if there’s any indication he isn’t 100 percent before the Bulls game, it would be wise to let him rest. The Chicago Bulls are 14-44 (fourth-worst record in basketball) and should be a team the Celtics can beat without the aid of Gordon Hayward. Boston has much bigger fish to fry moving forward.