Celtics

Frustrated Gordon Hayward hoping third shot's the charm with foot injury

Frustrated Gordon Hayward hoping third shot's the charm with foot injury

BOSTON — A frustrated Gordon Hayward said he’s received three cortisone shots trying to combat a nerve issue in his left foot that he believes is connected to his gruesome ankle injury two years ago, but is hopeful they’ve found a remedy that will allow him to get back on the court on Christmas Day.

Hayward said his foot felt “a lot better” Tuesday, a day after receiving a third injection aimed at eliminating the pain that has bothered a general area of his left foot since Boston’s win in Cleveland on November 5. Hayward said that, if the foot still feels good on Wednesday morning, he’ll play in Boston’s Christmas Day game against the Toronto Raptors.

But Hayward’s frustration was evident as he tried to answer reporters questions about the ailment.

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"I was frustrated, I was super frustrated,” said Hayward. "I broke my hand [on November 9] and this was a different issue that, when I wasn’t playing, you would think I could figure it out. My hand was broke,” said Hayward. "The fact that [the foot] was getting worse was frustrating everybody. We were calling around the country trying to figure it out. Hopefully we did.

“The foot feels a lot better today than it has been. I think we’ve been trying to figure out kind of the cause of the issue. There’s been a lot of nerve pain, it’s something I’ve been dealing with for a while. And then it got kind of to the point where I couldn’t play over the break, which was the weirdest thing because we weren’t doing anything. But it certainly feels a lot better now. I had an injection, so I hit the right spot on that hopefully and we’ll see how it feels [Wednesday].”

Hayward said the first two cortisone shots did not help his pain, but said “hopefully the third time was the charm.” He said team doctors have been trying to administer shots in different spots to alleviate the pain.

Asked if it the pain was centralized to one spot, Hayward said, "A general area, and it’s moved around a little bit, too. Your questions are the same questions I’ve had asking the doctors. I think we figured out something yesterday, so that’s good.”

Hayward expressed concern that the issue is related to his ankle injury in Cleveland from opening night of the 2017-18 season.

"I think it had everything to do with the prior injury,” said Hayward. "I didn’t get hurt on my right foot, so when you have a traumatic event to your foot or your ankle, things are going to change inside of there that you don’t know necessarily because they don’t bug you, but things start to poke their head a little bit if it gets tweaked in some way or another. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s on my left foot.”

Hayward said he definitely felt discomfort after the Cleveland game this year but noted it got worse while not playing — both as he recovered from the hand injury and again after he returned a month later during an extended break in Boston’s schedule.

Hayward hasn’t played since Dec. 12 due to the foot pain. The multiple shots trying to combat the pain have only added to his frustration.

"That’s kind of been the frustrating piece is that we haven’t figured out exactly what the issue is,” said Hayward. “Structurally, my foot is fine. We did all the imaging we needed to do and did it a second time as well. So I hope this cortisone injection works. That’s typically, I’ve been told, what you can do for nerve pain is inject it with cortisone. We tried that two other times … It feels a lot better today.

"Hopefully that’s a sign that we did get it right this time.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Raptors, which tips off Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Scal have the call at 12 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Karl-Anthony Towns dealing with wrist injury, will miss game vs. Celtics

Karl-Anthony Towns dealing with wrist injury, will miss game vs. Celtics

It doesn't look like the Boston Celtics will have to face Karl-Anthony Towns coming out of the All-Star break.

The Celtics are taking on the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Friday night, their first night back after eight days off. The Timberwolves will be without Towns for that contest as he deals with a left wrist injury.

Towns didn't practice on Wednesday as a result of the injury. And per The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski, Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said Towns would miss games with the injury.

While the team hasn't officially confirmed that he's out, Friday's game is the Wolves' first back from the All-Star break. So, if Towns is set to miss multiple games, as Saunders implied, he will be out Friday.

Towns has averaged 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.4 asissts, and 1.2 blocks per game for Minnesota this season. Despite his success, the Wolves have logged just a 16-37 record and have the second-worst record in the West, ahead of only the lowly Golden State Warriors. 

The Celtics will be happy not to face Towns. Over the course of eight career games against the C's, Towns is averaging 21.9 points and 14.8 rebounds per game. And though Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter have outperformed expectations this year, they may have had trouble guarding the talented big man.

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.

Joe Harris calls Jayson Tatum Team USA's 'best player' from 2019 FIBA World Cup

Joe Harris calls Jayson Tatum Team USA's 'best player' from 2019 FIBA World Cup

The Boston Celtics had a prominent presence on Team USA during the summer of 2019. The squad that competed for the FIBA World Cup title featured four members of the Celtics: Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart.

While the team lost early in the tournament and snapped a historically-long undefeated streak for Team USA via an exhibition loss to Australia, the group did have some nice moments. And it's worth noting that one Team USA player thought a Celtics player shined brightest of all during the tournament.

As Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Harris explained, he thought Tatum was the best of the bunch for the USA squad.

“I thought Jayson was probably the best player on our team this summer,” said Harris at NBA's All-Star weekend, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “Obviously there were a lot of talented guys there. Unfortunately he got hurt halfway through our trip, but he was leading us in a lot of different areas. It wasn’t this huge statistical thing, I think it was more the presence that he had. What I saw, what he brought every day to practice. It was one of those things where he is super young, but he didn’t act like it, he didn’t play like it, and I could’ve told you this summer that he’d have a pretty good chance to be here today as an All-Star.”

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Tatum only played in two games for Team USA after suffering a sprained ankle, but he did average 24.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. That closely mirrors the 22.4 points and 6.9 boards that he has averaged so far during the 2019-20 season, his first All-Star campaign. And Tatum only playing in the two wins, not the two losses, is notable as well.

But Harris' point about Tatum having a presence and playing beyond his years may be even more important. If he can continue to develop, keep that presence about him and emerge as a leader, there's no telling what his ceiling could be.

Tatum will look to continue his hot play of late following the All-Star break. And no matter what happens with the C's, it seems that Tatum is tracking toward becoming a star player at the NBA level.

And his peers, like Harris, are recognizing that.

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.