BOSTON -- Nobody said this road to recovery stuff was going to be easy for Gordon Hayward.
As challenging as it has been to physically recover from his season-ending ankle injury at the start of the 2017-18 campaign, he’s finding the path towards consistent play to be similarly daunting.
Hayward has been in one of the funkier shooting slumps of his career, having missed 10 of his last 11 shots in Boston’s last two games. His lone made basket was a breakaway dunk last night in Boston’s 112-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
For the season, he's shooting a career-worst 41.6 percent from the field.
The inconsistent play has been a recurring theme with Hayward this season, one that’s only going to change if the former All-Star returns to playing at or close to where he was before his left ankle injury.
“I think you just got to keep playing him," said coach Brad Stevens. "Ultimately he’s going to have some ups and downs and he’s had a couple of games where the ball didn’t go in as much."
And Stevens, while committed to continue playing Hayward, will also continue to lean on the team’s depth at the wing position.
“We got a lot of wings, a lot of other wings played more (against Brooklyn) and against Golden State, but there are going to be nights where we are counting on him to close the game because he really got it rolling,” Stevens said.
Indeed, there have been games in which Hayward reminds us all to just how talented he is, and why the Celtics made landing him in the summer of 2017 their number one offseason priority.
But those times have been few and far between, fueling concerns that the 28-year-old may never return to All-Star form or close to it.
Hayward has no time for such thoughts, remaining committed to continue working towards doing whatever he can to help the team while finding a rhythm and consistency with his own game.
“I’ve certainly had shooting slumps in the past,” said Hayward who has shot at or less than 33 percent from the field in four of Boston’s last five games. “It’s nothing new. You go through stretches like that.”
And to Hayward’s credit, he has maintained an even-keeled demeanor throughout this season. Good or bad games, he doesn’t allow the moment to consume him.
“Some days are diamonds, some days are stones,” Hayward said. “Sometimes you have a couple stones in a row; try not to get too high on the highs or too low on the lows. So I’ll keep working. It’s a process. I’m not worried about it.”
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