BOSTON – The Boston Celtics rode star point guard Kyrie Irving to victory on Friday night as they took down the Toronto Raptors in overtime at TD Garden. His 43 points and 11 assists may have led the way, but Gordon Hayward had arguably his best game in a Celtics uniform to date.
Hayward finished the night with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists on 4/8 shooting in 39 minutes. The 28-year-old began the year with a 25-minute restriction, but Brad Stevens felt confident to run with Hayward down the stretch. Sitting at 34 minutes at the end of regulation, the 9-year vet got the nod to go in overtime and didn’t disappoint. Did Stevens decision surprise Hayward considering he had been on a time restriction just weeks ago?
“I kind of was (surprised),” said Hayward. “I was wondering if they were going to take me out of the game at some point in time. I’m glad they left me in to play that many minutes. It’s been such a long time since I’ve done that. That was a good confidence booster.”
Hayward had 4 points in the extra period to help the Celtics to their 123-116 win, including two key free throws. He was happy to hit his attempts from the charity stripe, but also discussed how his time off prepared him for late game scenarios like Friday’s.
“I’ve practiced that situation a lot over the last year and a half – haven’t been in it,” said Hayward. “Especially at home, you want to make sure you knock those free throws down, don’t want to let everybody down and I’m glad that I was able to hit those.”
Listen to everything Hayward had to say from the locker room after Friday’s win here: