Celtics

Celtics know importance of Game 5 vs. Sixers

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Celtics know importance of Game 5 vs. Sixers

WALTHAM At this point, there's no point in reminding the Boston Celtics that Game 5 is, you know, kind of a big deal in this series.

With the series knotted up at 2-2, Game 5's winner will be in great position to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals where a sure-to-be-bludgeoned Miami-Indiana series winner will be.

But if you expect Celtics coach Doc Rivers to deliver a Knute Rockne-esque speech to his players leading into Monday's Game 5 tilt against the Philadelphia 76ers . . . that's just not going to happen.

"I don't think I have to talk about it a whole bunch," Rivers said. "It's a swing game; but it's a swing game for both teams. Game 5s and Game 7s are pretty much the same."

With the one difference being a Celtics loss in Game 5 means they'd have to win the final two games of the series, the first on the road and another at home.

That would flow well with the team's season-long knack for making most situations tougher than they should be.

But there's no "maybe next game" following a Game 7 loss.

The season is over and you're making plans for offseason beach shores, and for some of the Celtics, offseason surgery.

Boston wants no part of that, which is why Monday night's Game 5 battle should be one of the C's better performances this season.

Having an extra day in between games certainly bodes well for the many Celtic players dealing with an assortment of bumps and bruises.

But that extra time off means one more day to think about the opportunity they let slip away in Game 4.

"If we had played today, it would have been over, gone," Rivers said when asked about whether the team would have trouble moving past the Game 4 loss. "We don't play today, so that may allow it to stick a little longer. But for the most part, you get over it. You have no choice."

Indeed, the Celtics have had their share of tough defeats both in the regular season and in the playoffs.

More often than not, they don't just bounce back with a better performance.

They respond with some of their best individual and collective performances, the kind of track record that leads one to expect a Celtics team in Game 5 to play at an extremely high level.

"A lot of it is mental, preparation, understanding what it takes," said Paul Pierce. "All of those things, a combination of those things, really helps us out being a veteran ball club."

Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery

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Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery

PHILADELPHIA --  Only hours removed from surgery to repair a dislocated left ankle and fractured fibia injury, Gordon Hayward’s agent tells NBC Sports Boston that his client is already attacking the rehab process.
 
“We expect him to have a full recovery,” agent Mark Bartelstein said via phone Thursday.
 
That said, Bartelstein also noted that it’s unlikely that the 6-foot-8 forward will return to action this season.
 
“We don’t have a timetable or anything like that for him,” Bartelstein said. “It’s about getting better, healthier every day.”
 
The Celtics released a statement Thursday afternoon indicating Hayward underwent successful “bony and ligamentous stabilization surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle.”
 
Performing the surgery was Drs. Mark Slovenkai and Brian McKeon at New England Baptist Hospital, with Dr. Anthony Schena assisting followed by consultations with Dr. David Porter of Methodist Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.
 
Hayward suffered the injury in the first quarter of Boston’s 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday when he was attempting to catch a lob pass from Kyrie Irving.
 
On the play, Hayward landed awkwardly on his ankle, which contorted in a way where it was clear immediately that he would be out of action for a significant amount of time.
 
Since the injury, Hayward has received an amazing amount of outpouring of well-wishes and prayers from Kobe Bryant, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and a cast of other current and former athletes. Both Edelman and Gronkowski know all too well about the challenges associated with returning to play after an injury.
 
"Go into rehab just like you go into anything else: dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you’re 100 percent. He wouldn’t be where he is now if he wasn’t a hard worker.”
 
And then there are the Celtics fans, whose support has been impressive.
 
Hayward delivered a pre-recorded message to the fans at the TD Garden that was aired on the Jumbotron high above half court prior to Wednesday night’s game against Milwaukee. Even after the video ended, there was no escaping Hayward’s presence was still very much in the building and on the minds of fans.
 
At one point in the 108-100 Celtics loss on Wednesday, Boston fans began a “Gor-don Hay-ward!” chant that soon swept its way throughout the TD Garden.
 
“It has been a bit overwhelming the amount of support that Gordon has received,” Bartelstein said. “It touched him in so many ways. The outpouring he got, certainly all the fans in the arena last night, from players around the league … it meant the world to him. And obviously, going through something like this, it’s devastating. So, to see so many reach out to him, it means the world to him and his family; there’s no doubt about it.”