By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Celtics will begin their Eastern Conference Finals showdown with the Miami Heat without Gordon Hayward, as the team has officially ruled Hayward out for Tuesday’s Game 1.
The 30-year-old Hayward, who returned to the bubble last week and was out of quarantine in time to attend last Friday’s Game 7 win over the Raptors, has missed the last 10 postseason contests due to a right ankle sprain (not the ankle he broke in his Celtics debut back in 2017). Hayward suffered the sprain in Boston’s Game 1 victory over the 76ers in the first round, and finished that contest with 12 points, four steals, four rebounds, and three assists in 34:27.
Following Boston’s series-ending win over the Raptors last week, Brad Stevens acknowledged that the C’s do expect to get Hayward back in action ‘at some point’ during the Green’s third-round meeting with the Heat.
The 6-foot-7 Hayward averaged 17.5 points, and set career-highs in rebounds per game (6.7) and field goal percentage (50%), in 52 games during the 2019-20 regular season.
The Celtics will also likely be without bench piece Javonte Green, though he was upgraded from out to doubtful, as he continues to recover from an Aug. 25 knee procedure to repair a small meniscus tear.
This will be Boston’s third Eastern Conference Finals in the last four seasons, and the first postseason series between the Celtics and Heat since their third-round meeting in 2012.