Gordon Hayward didn’t play in the first two games of Eastern Conference finals. But he will be available to play on Friday as he took part in pre-game warmups.
Hayward sustained the third degree ankle sprain in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference round 1. He left the bubble in between to get treatment on his injured ankle. Having returned during the Raptors series, Hayward is in line with his 4-week timetable of return as initially thought of by team doctors.
Gordon Hayward upgraded to questionable for Game 3 vs Miami Heat
The return of Hayward would bolster the Celtics, who have a thin rotation. Without Hayward’s presence, Marcus Smart was starting as the 2 guard. Hayward will be needed to shore up the Celtics on both ends of the floor, but especially on offense. The Heat have stifled their offense in both second halves played thus far. Their zone defense has proved to be a puzzle for the Celtics lineup.
Celtics upgraded Gordon Hayward (ankle) to “Questionable” for Game 3 vs. Miami on Saturday, an indicator that there’s a real chance of his return.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 18, 2020
Barring a setback in pregame warmups, there’s significant optimism within the Celtics that forward Gordon Hayward (right ankle sprain) will be active to play in Game 3 vs. Miami tonight, sources tell ESPN. After missing a month, Hayward offers a sizable boost for Boston’s bench.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 19, 2020
A robust midrange game is crucial to any team’s success against zone defense. Erik Spoelstra’s Heat bust out zone defenses the most of any team in the NBA – an exercise they have engaged in during the regular season too. While the likes of Tatum, Brown and Kemba have good midrange games, they have been isolated on the wing in such positions thus far.
With the Cs lacking a good passing big man in the center, there arises a crying need for a mid-range maestro to step in. Hayward, with his floaters and runners from that range, is exactly the kind of player that could break the zone defense.