Gordon Hayward’s fractured hand is a major bummer for him and the Celtics

Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images
Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images /

Gordon Hayward was finally looking like his former self, but the Boston Celtics forward fractured a bone in his hand on Saturday.

Heading into Saturday’s matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, Gordon Hayward was looking like he did during his peak years with the Utah Jazz. Through the first seven games of the 2019-20 campaign, the Boston Celtics forward was averaging 20.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, shooting a blistering 56.4 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from 3-point range.

It was a welcome return to form for the 29-year-old wing, whose devastating ankle fracture on opening night of the 2017-18 season set off a chain reaction of classic NBA “what-ifs.” From the growth of youngsters like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, to Kyrie Irving eventually wanting out, to missing out on their chance at Anthony Davis, the Celtics saw a collection of highs and lows over the last two seasons as a result of Hayward’s difficult path to finding himself again.

This season, it appeared vintage Gordon Hayward was finally back. So, of course, the cruel and unrelenting basketball gods had to do something about it and ruin everyone’s fun.

On a play late in the second quarter of Boston’s road game in San Antonio on Saturday, Hayward was guarding Dejounte Murray on a drive when he ran into a brick wall named LaMarcus Aldridge. Though Aldridge wasn’t trying to set a pick or hurt Hayward, he was perfectly stationary as Hayward’s left hand made hard contact with his side.

Hayward immediately went to the locker room. According to the team, in-arena X-rays confirmed he had fractured a bone in his hand. ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski reports he will see a specialist on Monday to determine whether surgery is needed, which will also take place on Monday if that’s the case.

Until then, more details on the severity of the break, or even which bones are fractured, will be scant, but this is obviously a huge bummer for Hayward and the Celtics alike.

Heading into this matchup with the Spurs, a game Hayward’s team led by 18 at halftime, the Celtics looked like a legitimately good basketball team. Despite the losses of Irving and Al Horford over the summer, Kemba Walker was starting to find his groove, Tatum and Brown were looking like franchise pillars again and Hayward was playing some of the best basketball of his career. Seven games is a small sample, but at 6-1, Boston sat atop the Eastern Conference standings.

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Now, Hayward’s injury will throw a major wrench in the works, even if it’s good news that the injury was to his non-shooting hand. He’ll most likely be out for at least a month or two as the bone(s) heal, and a team that was starting all three of its wings will now most likely rely on Marcus Smart stepping into the starting lineup and additional minutes for Javonte Green.

Smart has been great this season, but Boston’s depth — and prospects as a legitimate Eastern Conference contender, depending on his timetable for a return — just took a major blow. The Celtics just lost their third-leading scorer and leading rebounder, who was just starting to look like his former self. Get well soon, Hayward.