Gordon Hayward's first season with the Boston Celtics ended just minutes into the first game of the year when Hayward suffered a gruesome ankle injury. The ankle injury completely derailed the start of his career in Boston.
As Hayward came back for his second season with the Celtics, he dealt with hurdles both mentally and physically. While the physical hurdles got more attention while he was out last year, the mental aspect of his game has gotten more attention this year. And Hayward has put in work there to help himself recover.
Hayward recently told Brian Robb of the Boston Sports Journal that he has been working with a mental health counselor and that it's helped him to push through the challenges that returning from the injury has given him.
“The whole thing was just a lot,” he admitted. “Everything that I was dealing with. It’s good to be able to talk somebody and have it not necessarily be friends or family — be kind of like a third party person and unbiased, just to hash things out. It was all a lot.”
Evidently, working with the counselor has helped Hayward. While that's excellent news for him in general, the work he has put in off the court is starting to manifest on the court. After a slow start to the season, Hayward is really starting to get into a rhythm ahead of the Celtics' playoff run.
Over the past six games, Hayward is averaging 15.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3 assists while converting on 52.2% of his shots. Hayward has looked more aggressive and comfortable on the floor, and it's possible that his change in playing style could stem from the work he has done off the court both physically and mentally. Either way, he's rounding into form at the right time.
It's notable that the Celtics are undefeated when Hayward logs 20 or more points. So, if he continues to play well on offense and put his injury further into the rearview mirror, the team could make some noise in the playoffs.
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