Celtics

Ainge: Hayward doesn't think he'll return this year

Ainge: Hayward doesn't think he'll return this year

On Wednesday's Toucher & Rich radio appearance, Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman sparked a Gordon Hayward-will-return mania when he speculated that Hayward wouldn't be working out eight or nine hours a day if he wasn't preparing to play again this season.

On Thursday's Toucher & Rich show, Danny Ainge doused those flames.

"I don't believe that Gordon thinks he's going to play. I don't think so, no," he said on his weekly appearance on the 98.5 The Sports Hub program. And he explained why:

"[Hayward's] not even full weight-bearing on his foot doing anything yet," Ainge said. "He is on the AlterG (an anti-gravity treadmill), which is half his body weight, maybe up to 60 percent of his body weight. There's just a long way to go before he can get out on a basketball court.

"And then once he's 100 percent cleared physically, which he's not close to that yet, there's a long process of just getting your mind and your confidence in your foot and overcoming the mental part of it."

So why make such a big public deal of his workouts, as Hayward has been doing?

"I think that Gordon just wants to show everyone when he comes back next year . . . all the work that he put in to get back to who he was when he got here. [And attempt to become an] even better player than he was when he got hurt."

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Playing catch up seems to have finally caught up with Celtics

Playing catch up seems to have finally caught up with Celtics

BOSTON – Brad Stevens has quite a few things he would like to see his Celtics players do a better job at going forward. 

Near the top of that list has to be enacting their highly effective down-by-20 points approach to playing, you know, BEFORE they're down by 20 points. 

Because lately, it seems that the only time they dig down and play great basketball is when they have a deep hole they are trying to dig out of.

And that is why Stevens is giving some thought to a roster shake-up of some kind to inject a greater sense of urgency in the lineup sooner rather than later.

“Still talking about it,” Stevens said on Tuesday when asked about possible roster changes. “Obviously, the easy question and the easy thought is, who starts? It’s just as much rotations in the game that we need to be better with, maybe find some groups that play better together. I thought actually in the Portland game, I saw some of that in the second half. The hard part is right now, when we play really urgent and desperate, we’re pretty good. We’re just not there enough. It’s hard to really pin that on a lineup, on a person, as much as we just have to be better.”

We’ll find out on Wednesday if this trend continues when the Celtics (7-6) begin a three-game homestand against the Chicago Bulls.

The Celtics are pleased with being home after having played their past five on the road, all but one resulting in a loss.

But reversing their fortunes will have more to do with execution and urgency than location.

And while players and coaches agree that what ails this team can be fixed, a sustainable turnaround begins with playing with a greater desire to win, especially in close games.

Boston comes in having played in a league-high 11 clutch games (that’s when the score in the final five minutes is within five points) with a not-so-stellar 5-6 record.

The Celtics played in 46 clutch games last season which tied for the sixth-highest total in the NBA. Their winning percentage (.630) in such games was tops among teams that played as many games and was fourth overall.

What we’ve seen this season in the clutch from Boston is a team that often struggles to get points most of the game all of a sudden transform into Golden State of the East in the fourth quarter.

According to NBA.com/stats, the Celtics have an offensive rating of 129.4 in the clutch, which ranks fourth in the NBA, a significant improvement compared to their offensive rating for the season, which stands at 103.4 (21st in the NBA).

That’s great, right, Celtics fans?

Not if your defense can’t get stops which has become an all-too-common occurrence for this team this season in close, late-game situations.

In the clutch, Boston’s top-ranked defense has a defensive rating of 120.1, which is 23rd in the league.

One of the theories floated out there is that the Celtics, predicted by many to advance to the NBA Finals this year, might not be taking their opponents as seriously as they should be.

“I don’t know what it is,” Gordon Hayward said. “I don’t think, at least for me individually, it’s not like we come out feeling...I don’t come out the gates thinking we’re going to walk through this game. We have to be able to play like our backs are against the wall.”

Jaylen Brown believes there are a multitude of contributing factors playing a role in the Celtics' struggles such as players not being as assertive as they should be.

Disappointing?

For sure.

Frustrating?

“I don’t think it’s too much of a frustration thing,” Brown said. “We just have to get on the same page. What’s on the other end of this is good. We have to continue to stay with it, keep fighting and not lose hope and continue to get better.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Warriors Player Claims 'No Way' Kevin Durant Re-Signs After Draymond Green Issue

Warriors Player Claims 'No Way' Kevin Durant Re-Signs After Draymond Green Issue

Kevin Durant's looming NBA free agency could be an issue for the Golden State Warriors despite their impressive 12-3 start to the season.

The Warriors haven't had too much public drama since signing Durant as a free agent in 2016, but that changed Monday night when him and teammate Draymond Green got into a heated verbal exchange after Green wasn't able to get off a potential game-winning shot against the Los Angeles Clippers. Durant wanted the ball, but Green got the rebound and dribbled down court. He turned over the ball and the Warriors eventually won in overtime.

Durant and Green argued with each other on the bench, and among the things reportedly said was Green grilling Durant over his impending free agency. KD has a player option for the 2019-20 season, but if he turns that down he can become an unrestricted free agent in July. Tons of rumors have flown about over where he could go if he leaves Golden State, and one Warriors player isn't confident at all that Durant will remain with the team after this season.

“With what was said, there is already no way Durant is coming back,” one player told The Athletic's Marcus Thompson. “The only hope is that they can say this summer, ‘See, KD. We’ve got your back. We protected you from Draymond.’”

That's a pretty honest assessment of the situation.

Durant already has won two titles and two NBA Finals MVP awards with the Warriors, and it's likely he'll add at least another championship ring to his fingers by the time he has to decide his future. It might seem foolish to leave a team that's building what could become the greatest dynasty in NBA history, but Durant has received plenty of criticism for joining a 73-win Warriors team to win his titles, so there could be motiviation for him to depart Golden State and try to build a winner where he's the undisputed face of the franchise.

In the short term, it doesn't look like the Warriors are feeling any heat over Durant's uncertain future with the franchise, although it's certainly an interesting storyline to watch as the trade deadline and playoffs near.