NBA Boston Celtics Miami Heat v Boston Celtics Miami Heat Basketball
Will Gordon Hayward make his return Saturday night and help the Celtics avoid falling into a 3-0 hole against the Heat?
The Boston forward suffered a Grade 3 right ankle sprain on Aug. 17 in Game 1 of the Celtics' first-round series vs. the 76ers and has been rehabbing ever since. He was estimated to be out four weeks following the diagnosis, so the speculation about him rejoining the rotation makes sense given the original timeline.
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After disappointing losses in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics
Here's the latest news on Hayward ahead of Game 3:
What is Gordon Hayward's status?
UPDATE: Hayward is available for Game 3, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. He will come off the bench, and his minutes will be monitored.
Sources: Celtics‘ Gordon Hayward is available to play in Game 3 vs. Miami after missing a month with ankle sprain. He will come off bench.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 19, 2020
ORIGINAL: On the 5:30 p.m. ET injury report, Hayward was listed as questionable, but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports there is "significant optimism" Hayward will be available for Game 3.
Barring a setback in pregame warmups, there’s significant optimism within the Celtics that forward Gordon Hayward (right ankle sprain) will be active to play in Game 3 vs. Miami tonight, sources tell ESPN. After missing a month, Hayward offers a sizable boost for Boston’s bench.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 19, 2020
Hayward's presence would be huge for a Boston offense that struggled with Miami's zone defense in Game 2. The 30-year-old averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists during the regular season and played well in the team's "seeding games," including a 31-point showing against the Magic on Aug. 9, his second-highest scoring game of the season.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens could use Hayward as a hub in the middle of the zone given he is a strong midrange scorer and facilitator. Hayward would also give Stevens the option to play a super switchable lineup defensively — Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Hayward, for example — if he doesn't want to have a traditional big like Daniel Theis on the floor.
If Hayward is ruled out of Game 3, expect heavy minutes from the starting five (Walker, Smart, Brown, Tatum and Theis). Boston knows this is essentially a must-win situation.
Celtics vs. Heat Game 3 injury report
Every significant Celtics and Heat player should be ready to go Saturday. Miami forward Andre Iguodala is included on the injury report, but he is listed as probable for Game 3 after logging 22 total minutes in Games 1 and 2.