Celtics

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.

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