Boston Celtics wing Gordon Hayward will be limited to 25 minutes per game in the first few weeks of the season as he ramps back up to full health, according to Brad Stevens.
From Celtics practice: Brad Stevens says they’ll try to restrict Gordon Hayward to about 25 minutes/game in the first couple weeks. Aim is to ramp him up to feel good for end of season and years beyond.
— Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) October 15, 2018
Per his teammates, Hayward has looked considerably better over the last week of practice since Boston’s preseason schedule wrapped up. But he has dealt with lingering effects of the injury, including back soreness which kept him out of the final preseason game.
Hayward appeared hesitant in his preseason minutes, short-arming layups and missing easy jumpers. But Marcus Smart told reporters after practice on Monday that Hayward has been dunking off his left foot, and that his shot has looked considerably better.
Hayward’s health will be key for the Celtics, both in the first and second units. He will be expected to lead certain lineups and fill gaps effectively in others.
Brad Stevens told reporters he would reveal the starting lineup for Tuesday’s game during pre-game availability. The projected lineup for the season will include Kyrie Irving, Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford, but the Philadelphia 76ers present a unique issue with Joel Embiid’s size which may necessitate a start for Aron Baynes. Baynes defended both Embiid and Ben Simmons effectively during the playoffs.