Boston Celtics

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – APRIL 21: Kyrie Irving #11 ,Marcus Morris #13 and Gordon Hayward #20 of the Boston Celtics celebrates in the 110-106 win over the Indiana Pacers in game four of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 21, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

It’s been a long and equally frustrating eighteen months, but Celtics wing Gordon Hayward finally looks like the Gordon Hayward that earned a max contract from Danny Ainge and Co. in July 2017.

In a four-game bulldozing of the overmatched Pacers, Hayward averaged just over 12 points, but truly came alive in Boston’s closeout Game 4 victory, with 20 points behind a 7-for-9 shooting night along with three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. It was the first time Playoff Hayward truly activated since his last hurrah with the Jazz in 2017.

And given the Shire-to-Mordor journey this has been for the Indiana-born Hayward since coming to Boston, it was impossible for Hayward to ignore the importance of his first playoff series victory as an on-court member of the Celtics.

“There’s nothing worse than sitting there and not be able to play in the playoffs especially,” Hayward admitted after the Green’s four-game sweep over the Pacers. “So to be able to be with my teammates, be a part of something like this where we got a chance to sweep the Pacers, after everything that happened last year, it makes it all worth it — no doubt.”

But this is just the start of what everybody originally expected to be a championship-contending group, and Hayward knows that, with another two rounds to go just for the Celtics to escape their own conference.

“It’s just the beginning for us,” Hayward said after Game 4. “We still got a lot of work to do.”

Barring some sort of historic comeback from the Detroit Pistons, who are currently down three games to none, Hayward and the Green will continue their run with a second-round date against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.