Ainge: "Gordon Hayward wants to return faster than anyone has from this injury"

Ainge: "Gordon Hayward wants to return faster than anyone has from this injury"

BOSTON – A picture of Gordon Hayward without a boot on his left leg, posted by his wife Robyn, sent Celtics Nation into a brief tizzy that maybe, just maybe, the season-ending ankle injury he suffered five minutes into the opener may not be season-ending after all.

Danny Ainge -- while stressing the recuperation timetable hasn't changed -- says Hayward "deep inside . . . wants to come faster than anybody has from this kind of injury."

"He's got a competitive streak to him and he's asking lots of questions," Ainge said Thursday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich. "He's diligent in his rebab. I know what's going on his mind, but I don't think he'll say anything about how fast he wants to get back."

Officially, however, he's still on pace for a 2018-19 comeback.

“He can take the boot off for short periods of time,” Ainge said. “But yeah, he’s doing really well. His therapy is going great. He’s right on schedule. He’s sometimes doing two workouts a day, trying to get stronger. The next phase is getting out of the boot completely, but I still think that’s a couple weeks away, from being permanently out of the boot.”

Coach Brad Stevens echoed similar sentiments, adding that Hayward still wears the boot most of the day.

“He wears the boot until a certain time every evening and then he can take it off,” Stevens said. “When he moves around, he can move around with a brace that’s like a boot.”

Hayward suffered a dislocated left ankle injury in the season opener at Cleveland. The injury led to the Celtics being granted an $8.4 million disabled player exception, which is the largest DPE granted to an NBA team.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

1:13 - The Celtics came away with a 105-100 win in Portland on Friday night. Find out why Chris Mannix is calling this the best Celtics win of the season.

6:05 - Mannix discusses details about Kyrie Irving’s ‘minimally invasive’ procedure on his knee and what his level of concern is with A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay.

10:03 - Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss what NFL players, including Devin McCourty, are doing beyond the gridiron by being active in criminal justice reform discussions held at Harvard this week.



Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

When you think about Marcus Morris these days, big-time scoring immediately comes to mind. 

But in Boston’s 105-100 comeback win over Portland, Morris’ contributions went beyond the game-high 30 points he dropped on the Blazers.

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“Coach (Brad Stevens) is doing a great job of getting me the ball in my spots and my teammates are finding me,” Morris told reporters after the win. “And I’m just coming through.”

He’s providing strong play and a tremendous presence at both ends of the floor which has been critical to the team navigating some choppy waters with a number of regular rotation players – namely Kyrie Irving – out with injuries.

“One thing is, he’s healthy,” said Boston’s Al Horford, referring to the sore knee that limited Morris earlier this season and at times forced him to miss games. “And the other is, he’s just more confident, he’s playing very assertive. He’s playing great right now, in a really good rhythm.”

Said Stevens: “That’s been him (Morris). As he’s continued to feel better; I think physically he’s felt as good as he’s felt. He’s comfortable in our system and we need him to score. If you’re a basketball player and your job is to score, that’s a pretty good job.”

And it’s one that even with all the injuries Boston has played through, few envisioned him being such an integral part of the offense. 

Morris’ calling card prior to arriving in Boston was his defense. 

But Morris has made it known that his focus on the floor is to be as complete a player as possible.

“I’m not trying to just limit myself to just being that scorer,” Morris said. “Also, on the defensive end I think I’m bringing it; my defense has gotten a lot better, especially my on-the-ball defense. I’m trying to be that all-around player and not just an offensive player … but I can score.”