UPDATE: Gordon Hayward Ruled Out for Four Weeks

Gordon Hayward

Getty Images Celtics' Gordon Hayward drives against Sixers' Tobias Harris

In the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ 109-101 Game 1 win over the Sixers, Celtics guard Gordon Hayward suffered a right ankle sprain before he was escorted off the floor and into the team’s locker room.

He was last seen leaving the arena on crutches and wearing a walking boot, following Monday’s win. Hayward, who got tangled up with Sixers center Joel Embiid, went up for a rebound alongside teammate Daniel Theis and came down on Theis’ foot.

He exited the game with 12 points on 5-of-13 from the floor, four assists.

The Celtics announced Tuesday that Hayward suffered a Grade III sprain and is expected to miss approximately four weeks.

According to ESPN’s Adrain Wojnarowski, Hayward is expected to undergo an MRI. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens kept things brief when asked about Hayward’s left ankle injury.

“Sprained ankle, he’ll know the severity but he’s clearly in pain,” Stevens said. “It looked like it had some swelling already. That’s my medical review.”

The left ankle Hayward injured is not the same ankle from his injury in 2017. Hayward’s Celtics debut came to an end in the opening minutes when he went for a lob, came down, and fractured his left ankle/foot.

After sitting out of one season, Hayward spent an entire second regaining his strength and condition and it ultimately paid off. The NBA‘s 2019-20 season was undoubtedly Hayward’s best year with the Celtics, he averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists all while shooting 50% from the floor.

The Haywards Are Expecting

Hayward, whose wife Robyn is expected to give birth anytime between late-August and early-September, was expected to miss time at some point throughout the postseason.

He made the announcement prior to when the Celtics arrived in Orlando for the league’s 22-team restart. Now, the Celtics will have to continue their opening best-of-7 series without him, which is sooner than anyone expected.

What Will Stevens Do?

Expect Stevens to fill the void of Hayward’s absence by transferring most of Hayward’s minutes to guys like Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. Reserves such as Semi Ojeleye and Romeo Langford will certainly crack in minutes from time-to-time in Game 2 but expect a significant uptick in minutes for two of Celtics’ best defenders.

With Hayward out, Stevens is losing a lot on both ends of the floor, however, the Celtics’ defense is what’s going to matter most throughout the playoffs. Boston is going to have to find a way to strengthen its defense against the Sixers while Brown and Smart – two double-digit scorers – help carry the second unit’s offense for guys like Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, who will need their rest.

Closing out quarters will be key for the Celtics, losing a guy like Hayward is not only a blow to the staring unit but it also hurts the continuity of Stevens’ second unit. As a secondary playmaker, Hayward could create off-the-dribble, was a constant threat from the perimeter, and could stuff the stat sheet on a nightly basis.

It’s going to be difficult for Stevens to hand that role to one individual, instead, it’s going to take a collective effort from some members of the starting lineup and Smart, the Celtics’ best player off the bench.

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