ENTERING the season Boston was full of promise and a bright future, illuminated by the smart negotiations of general manager Danny Ainge. It only took five minutes of the new season for that new hope to dissipate in one painful moment. The Celtics have re-galvanised after that horrific injury to their newest star Gordon Hayward and find themselves in the upper echelon of NBA’s teams, which has led to fans voicing their support of Hayward making a triumphant return to the court this year once he’s healthy. That would be a huge mistake.
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THE opening night injury to Hayward was one of the most deflating and devastating in recent sporting memory. Visually gruesome and clearly emotional for Boston it took them a few games to refind their mojo and get back into the swing of playing basketball. And after what transpired you can’t blame them I mean players from both teams were running in the opposite direction to avoid looking at the injury.
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IN the days and weeks that followed it was revealed he suffered a fractured tibia and dislocated ankle which virtually ruled him out for the remainder of the season. Or so we thought. What followed was the inspirational messages from Hayward on how he would bounce back and return to greatness once he made a full recovery followed by the photos of him shooting from a chair with a moon boot on and trudging around the Celtics facilities in a cast.
AS time past and the Celtics kept winning the rumours started swirling that maybe Hayward could, in fact, return this season for Boston and help them make a championship push. Mostly it was just fans speculating and NBA heads playing the ‘what if’ game. Then Celtics GM Danny Ainge tweeted this photo while the team is in London of Hayward (no brace) and fuel was added to the fire.
THE braceless Hayward is now causing a stir through the NBA community and as the Celtics keep tearing through the league we can’t help but speculate. They can smell blood in the water given the way that Cleveland has played in the first half of the year and there is a real chance that this Boston team could dethrone ‘The King’ and Co and win the East.
AND after they get through the Cavs who would they face? Most likely it would be Houston or Golden State, who Boston is 2-0 against so far. Adding an All-Star calibre talent like Gordon Hayward back to perhaps the best defensive team in the league would give make a dynamic, versatile squad that could very well win it all. So why shouldn’t he return to the court if he’s cleared?
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YOU can’t blame basketball fans for getting excited at the prospect of Hayward returning in the playoffs, but it just makes no sense from any standpoint. Firstly, his injury might have actually turned into a blessing for Boston because it has forced Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to play a bigger role. And boy have they responded. The young forwards are thriving in their important roles for the team and have been massive contributors to the 33-10 record.
EVEN with Boston owning the second-best record in the league adding Hayward to the mix wouldn’t guarantee a title as long as the league’s best team continues to function too. Golden State is almost unbeatable given their current makeup and even an 80% healthy Gordon Hayward probably wouldn’t be enough for the Celtics to dethrone the current champs.
AND let’s be honest, it’s not like 2017-18 is boom or bust for the Celtics, their current roster construct and the slew of draft picks and assets they have at their disposal has them set up to be a powerhouse of the league for the next decade once ‘Dub Nation’ eventually falls back to normality.
NOW from all reports, Boston remains steadfast that Hayward won’t be returning this season and his sole focus is on training camp for next season. Both Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens have gone on record supporting that claim. Even if the Cavaliers look mortal, what’s the rush? Adding a healthy Hayward to the mix in 12 months time is only going to strengthen them to beat their conference foes, who by the way, might not even have LeBron James on their team next year.
THERE is a chance that he is medically cleared and that they try to build him into playing a role for the postseason but I think it’s incredibly risky, regardless of what the chances of reinjuring himself are. There is no rush to win. The Celtics are good, they are young and they are set up for a long period of success. There’s no need to risk losing all of that by bringing Hayward back in 2018, not until he is 110% fully healthy. I’m no doctor, but I don’t think he’ll reach that point this season, so please Boston, be patient.
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