Ainge: 'Nothing's changed' regarding Hayward's return

Ainge: 'Nothing's changed' regarding Hayward's return

LONDON -- The image of Gordon Hayward not wearing an ankle brace was the kind of visual tease that Celtics fans took and ran with, believing it to be proof that Hayward’s return to action was near.

Well, the man who posted the picture via social media -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge -- provided some context on the photo during his weekly call-in to 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show.

Ainge said the goal was for Hayward to be brace-free three months out from when the injury occurred (Oct. 17), which would have put him moving about without a brace around now.

But in terms of what everybody wants to know -- when will he play again? -- there are numerous steps that still need to be taken and cleared before that becomes a realistic topic of conversation.

Coach Brad Stevens discussed the picture shortly after it was posted, reiterating that the plan all along was, if things went as expected, Hayward would be out of his brace sometime this month.

But Stevens cautioned, “There’s a long way to go” before adding, “[All] the way from the surgery to the rehab and everything else, it’s been great. That said, he hasn’t done anything on the court. So, there’s so many boxes still to check. It’s great that he’s making good strides, but the timelines and those things don’t change.”

And as far as talks about his return, Ainge addressed that straight-on Thursday morning.

“That conversation (Hayward returning to play) has not happened and will not happen for a long time from now,” Ainge said. “We’re putting no pressure on that situation. Our mindset is still that he will play next year. Nothing has changed in that regard.”


Marcus Smart physically cleared to play

File Photo

Marcus Smart physically cleared to play

The Celtics might have a big piece back for Tuesday night's Game 5 against the Bucks. 

Marcus Smart, out since last month after undergoing thumb surgery, has been physically cleared to play. The Celtics have yet to announce whether Smart will definitely play Tuesday, but it's hard to imagine the ultra-competitive Smart wouldn't. 

Smart's potential return might go a long way towards the Celtics reclaiming their series lead after winning Games 1 and 2 before dropping two straight in Milwaukee. His impact on games against the Bucks during the regular season illustrated how much his defense can help. 

How to watch/stream Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics, Game 5

How to watch/stream Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics, Game 5

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch Game 5 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, as the Celtics host the Bucks at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's: Game 5 will come down to 'who wants it more'

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]