BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Tip-off between Boston and Brooklyn was about 30 minutes away and there was Gordon Hayward, raining a series of 3-pointers from different points on the floor. 

No, Hayward was not gearing up to play, but his return to action may be sooner than anticipated. 

“I feel pretty good,” Hayward said. “All things considered, I feel I’m progressing really well.”

When I asked him where he was far as his scheduled return, Hayward responded, “I feel like I’m ahead of schedule. It’s hard to say with these type of things what the timeline is. But I feel good.”

Hayward suffered a left hand fracture against San Antonio on November 9, and had surgery just a couple days later, which is when the 6-8 week timeline was established. 

If the 6-foot-8 Hayward returns at the earliest time following the injury, he would be back on the floor prior to the Celtics facing the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 21. 

In addition to working at keeping his conditioning in good shape, Hayward has also spent a great deal of time strengthening his left hand so that when he does return, he won’t have any issues with picking up where he left off prior to the injury. 

While starting Boston’s first eight games, Hayward averaged 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 55.5 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from 3-point range. 

Prior to the game, Hayward put on the kind of shooting display that showed the touch he had prior to the injury hasn’t gone away. 


But as Hayward noted, doing so in games is a lot different than prior to a game with no defenders around. 

“I wish I could be playing on the road, but it’s good to be around the guys,” Hayward said. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Knicks, which tips off Sunday at 3 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.