BOSTON — Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward admitted he’s experienced typical soreness in his ankle after each of his three games this season but suggested that Saturday’s rest day was something the team had planned for him given the after-game soreness.
Hayward sat out Saturday’s game in New York, Boston’s first back-to-back of the season, due to what the team termed left ankle recovery.
“There’s soreness in my ankle every time I play right now. I think there will be soreness for a little while,” said Hayward. "Like I said, I think [Saturday’s rest] was something we planned on doing that. That’s why I’m on a minutes restriction as well. They don’t want any overloading issues, so there is some load management stuff basically.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens had said before the season that he anticipated both Hayward and Kyrie Irving would be able to play in back-to-backs but, with Hayward being eased back into action, Boston showed an abundance of caution in holding him out Hayward on Saturday after he had general soreness coming off Friday’s loss in Toronto.
Asked if he expected to be restricted on any future back-to-backs, Hayward said he’s eager to play as much as possible.
"That was just the plan for that game,” said Hayward. "I want to play in every single game and every single minute but my game is not there yet. I trust our staff.”
Hayward has been limited to 25 minutes per game early in the season after missing almost all of last season with a fractured left ankle.
Hayward scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal over 24:56 in Monday’s 93-90 loss to the Orlando Magic. He missed a last-gasp 3-point attempt with a chance to force overtime.
"It had a chance for sure, it was a good look,” Hayward said of his late-game miss. "Kind of like the story of the night: We had a bunch of good looks. Just didn’t knock them down.”
While Hayward is still shaking rust from his season-long absence, he admitted that the Celtics are not playing to their potential. But he believes they will figure it out.
"We have a lot of work to do. That’s for sure,” said Hayward. “How many preseason games did we play, three? We didn’t play well in those either, so we have a lot of work to do. I have no doubt we’ll figure it out, but we definitely have a lot of work to do.”
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