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Gordon Hayward says he’s still sore

Celtics, Gordon Hayward

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is still making his way back from injury after missing nearly the entire 2017-18 season after suffering a freak injury, dislocating his ankle and shattering his tibia after the initial minutes of the season-opener. The $128 million star is still feeling the soreness that comes with the regularity of play, despite playing limited minutes until he’s back to full health.

“I can feel it [the ankle] right now,” said Gordon Hayward, according to Peter Thompson of The Sporting News. “It’s definitely a little bit sore, something new that I haven’t done in a while.

“Those are things I just have to work through, maybe some scar tissue that I can grind out a little bit. It did feel a little bit sore, but I think it held up just fine.”

Hayward has yet to get back to his old self, but had his best outing at the biggest stage, an 18-point performance to knock off the only undefeated team left in the league, grinding out a 117-113 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 28-year-old is only averaging 11.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists thus far this season, a far cry from the 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists that he put up two seasons ago with the Utah Jazz.

“I have to get knocked down. I have to land on that one foot a little awkwardly, just so mentally I know I can do it, but also physically I can hold and be strong,” said Hayward. “It started off with a good start. Just out there competing, playing. … I’ve said it before, but game by game there’s different things [I’m getting better at]. I’m getting more and more comfortable.

“I had some open looks from three that were good and was able to knock them down, and tonight was good for me.”

Hayward will look to build on this season-best performance, but the Celtics will play it out carefully with him, already having missed a game early on due to sitting out the back end of a back-to-back.