Celtics

'Hungry' Gordon Hayward looking 'stronger, faster, leaner' in Celtics workouts

'Hungry' Gordon Hayward looking 'stronger, faster, leaner' in Celtics workouts

BOSTON — Boston Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison said Gordon Hayward has been in the gym every day for the past six weeks, taking advantage of the offseason that evaded him last year when Hayward was recovering from a second ankle surgery.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has been fueling the Hayward offseason hype train in recent weeks and Morrison confirmed the encouraging early returns.

"Gordon looks great,” said Morrison, who is coaching the team’s summer squad this year but also works with Hayward during his morning workouts. "This will be the fifth or sixth week we’ve been going every day. We’ve got a pretty intense weight program three or four days a week; he’s on the court five days a week. 

"He’s getting stronger, getting faster, getting leaner, and, from a basketball perspective, it’s hard to test things like that, but I think he looks pretty good. His shot and ball-handling is a lot crisper. He’s just hungry to get better. I don’t want to speak for him but I’m very happy with the effort and progress that he’s putting in.”

Hayward underwent a follow-up surgery on his injured ankle in late May 2018 to remove plate and screws that had been inserted in his fractured fibula after his opening-night injury. That recovery sapped two months of basketball activities for Hayward and he always looked like he was still playing catchup for much of the 2018-19 season.

After some promising glimpses late last season and in the first round against the Pacers, there is hope that Hayward can be an even more consistent presence for the Celtics next season. It might ultimately be one of the keys if this team hopes to remain competitive despite their offseason defections.

"I think Gordon is going to have a great year. He's putting in as much work as anybody and we get to see it,” Ainge said last month. "I mean, he's here a lot. I'm very excited for Gordon's upcoming year.”

Previously, Ainge noted, "I’m really excited for Gordon’s upcoming season. He’s working hard right now in the gym. He’s here every day with five or six coaches and bodies out there working extremely hard. He’s put a lot of time in. I’m anticipating great things from Gordon this next year.”

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Jayson Tatum delivers down the stretch in Celtics win over Magic

Jayson Tatum delivers down the stretch in Celtics win over Magic

Lots of players stepped up for the Boston Celtics in their come-from-behind 122-119 overtime win over Orlando.

But when it came to those possessions in which they absolutely had to get a basket, Jayson Tatum was who they turned to as he scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Near the end of regulation, it was Tatum’s mid-range jumper that tied the game at 112 and forced overtime.

And in overtime, another Tatum basket put the Celtics ahead 120-117 which would prove to be the game-winning basket.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Grizzlies, which begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Tatum has had a series of ho-hum games shooting the ball in the Bubble despite coming in as Boston’s leading scorer.

But Sunday night was different; or in many ways, similar to what we saw from Tatum prior to entering the Bubble when he averaged 29.9 points per game following the All-Star break.

On Sunday, Tatum had a near double-double with 29 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

WHO’S HOT

Gordon Hayward: The Magic defense was nowhere to be found when it came to Gordon Hayward who lit Orlando up for 31 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the field to go with nine rebounds and six assists.

Nikola Vucevic: Orlando’s All-Star center has been a double-double machine most of his NBA career with Sunday’s game being no exception. Vucevic finished the game with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

Jaylen Brown: Another strong performance by the Boston Celtics’ best player in the Bubble. Brown finished with a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds with two steals.

Orlando three-pointers: The Magic rank 22nd in the NBA in 3-pointers made per game (11.0) this season. That didn’t matter on Sunday as Orlando drained 15.

WHO’S NOT

Kemba Walker: It was one of those nights for Kemba Walker who scored just four points while missing eight of his nine shots from the field.

SECOND UNIT SURPRISE

Terrence Ross: One of the best scoring reserve guards in the NBA, Ross had 18 points to go with seven rebounds.

Celtics vs. Magic Highlights: Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum lead C's to OT victory

Celtics vs. Magic Highlights: Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum lead C's to OT victory

FINAL SCORE: Boston Celtics 122, Orlando Magic 119 (OT)

IN BRIEF: Gordon Hayward dropped a game-high 31 points, and Jayson Tatum dropped 29 including a clutch shot to force overtime as the Celtics extended their win streak to three games. Jaylen Brown contributed 19 points of his own in the victory.

Nikola Vucevic starred for the Magic with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

BOX SCORE

CELTICS RECORD: 47-23 (4-2 in seeding round)

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Grizzlies, which begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

HIGHLIGHTS

Hayward throws it down

Smart --> Timelord

Tatum for 3

Hayward does it all himself

Hayward makes it look easy

Brown from WAY downtown

Kemba with the dime

Timelord doing Timelord things

Hayward with the denial

Tatum. Clutch.

Theis coming up big

UP NEXT
The Celtics will take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, and you can catch all of the action right here on NBC Sports Boston with Celtics Pregame Live starting at 4 p.m.