Saturday, Nov. 17 – Jazz at Celtics
Pregame – Hayward’s Durability to be Tested Tonight vs. Jazz
BOSTON – Gordon Hayward was shocked to hear his name called Friday night as overtime was about to commence between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. He had already played 34 minutes – the most since returning from last year’s season-ending leg injury – and now he was being asked to play five more.
Hayward, however, showed minimal fatigue, stepping up to score the first four points of the extra period, while helping to guide Boston to a 123-116 win over the top team in the East.
“I was wondering if they were going to take me out of the game at some point in time,” said Hayward, who tallied 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals during the effort. “But I’m happy that they left me in. It felt good to play that many minutes. It’s been such a long time since I’ve done that, so it’s a good confidence builder.”
Coach Brad Stevens admitted Saturday night before tipping off against the Utah Jazz that Hayward’s playing time the previous night had never crossed his mind, even as the team entered an extra period.
“I was told he’s not on a minutes restriction, so I just played who I thought gave us a best chance to win in that given game on that given night,” Stevens said ahead of the 7:30 p.m. tilt at TD Garden. “I didn’t realize that he had gotten to 39 minutes, but obviously with an overtime game, with basically not changing the lineup the whole overtime, everybody got up there in minutes. But I didn’t even think about it because I’ve been told that I don’t need to think about it anymore.”
Stevens went on to say that Hayward hasn’t been on a minutes restriction for a week now, with his last limited action coming Nov. 9 in Utah. Now, the All-Star wing is finally able to play freely without having to worry about playing shorter stints.
“It’s good,” said Stevens, “the whole idea of a minutes restriction is to get yourself back to the point where you can physically handle the demands of the season and do so without taking steps back. And so, the encouraging part is that it was really handled well by the training staff and by him, as frustrating as it may have been for him.”
It would have been especially frustrating if Hayward had a cap on his minutes Saturday night while playing against his former team. But even on the second night of a back-to-back, after playing nearly 40 minutes the night before, he will be free to roam without any limitations.
– Taylor Snow
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