BOSTON – The good news is that Gordon Hayward is back to practicing with the Boston Celtics and plans on being ready to go for the season-opener against Philadelphia on Tuesday.
But the road to recovery remains a work in progress for the 6-foot-8 forward, evident by his sore lower back injury which he has learned is part of his journey back to playing.
Hayward did not play in Boston’s final preseason game at Cleveland because of what the Celtics described as a sore lower back injury which may not be the only part of Hayward’s body to feel some discomfort as he works his way back to returning to action.
“I have found out that is going to be a process because of not playing for so long,” Hayward said prior to Wednesday’s practice. “The rest of my body has to re-adjust to playing.”
Hayward said his back has bothered him in the past, but it improved quickly and never became a long-term or sustained issue.
But this time, he said it got “progressively worse.”
“That’s what made me feel like I needed to dial it back a little bit,” Hayward said. “In the past it’s bothered me but always calmed down and was fine with treatments and stuff. But this time it was getting worst, especially after playing.”
It only adds to the frustration Hayward has experienced since suffering a season-ending leg injury just five minutes into the 2017-2018 season.
Hayward’s recovery following his initial surgery took a slight step back when a second procedure was performed in March to alleviate some of the discomfort he was feeling.
The second surgery all but killed any shot Hayward had of returning to the floor last season in time for the playoffs.
And now this, a sore lower back injury that only adds to the hard-luck narrative that has plagued Hayward since he became a Boston Celtic.
But it seems a few days of rest has done Hayward’s body a world of good with him coming off what was his best practice since returning to the team this season.
“He’s doing a good job each day taking positive steps,” said Al Horford. “(Tuesday) in my eyes was probably one of his better practices. He started to feel more comfortable, started moving really well.”
Hayward added, “I felt the best I’ve felt since I’ve been here. That was encouraging. My body felt pretty good. My back was definitely feeling better. Besides that, I was more comfortable in the offense. It was a good day for me. So, we gotta build on that and have another good one.”