Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Monday injured forward Gordon Hayward is feeling a bit better and his rehab is going well, but he has not returned to his normal gait as he rehabs his sprained right ankle.
“Once his gait feels right and becomes perfect he’s probably on a quicker course to coming back,” Stevens said. “I think he’ll rejoin us in the bubble at some point soon, but he still will be some time away when he does do that.”
Hayward suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of Boston’s Game 1 win in its opening-round series against the 76ers. The team announced he was expected to miss about four weeks, and two weeks have passed. Boston has gone 4-0 without him.
Hayward left the Orlando bubble to continue his rehabilitation, and he will face a four-day quarantine when he returns. Also, Hayward’s wife, Robyn, in September is expecting the couple’s fourth child, and Hayward was already planning to be with his family for the baby’s birth.
Brad Stevens calls John Thompson an icon
Hall of Fame coach John Thompson Jr. died Monday. Thompson, who was 78, led Georgetown to the 1984 NCAA championship and guided the United States to a bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics. He also spent his two lone NBA seasons with the Celtics, from 1964-66, averaging 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 10.4 minutes per game.
“Georgetown was such a giant,” Stevens said. “And their coach was so impactful and had such a presence. And then when you learn about all the great things he did off the court, what he meant to the players that played there, what he meant to the school, to see him up there a couple times when we were practicing the last few years, to see him kind of sitting on that perch, walking over and nudging someone like, ‘That’s Big John.’ Yeah, that was a big, big icon in basketball. Again, our condolences go out to him for sure. And his family.”
Celtics point guard Kemba Walker played in the Big East at UConn after Thompson retired, but was well aware of his impact.
“John Thompson, he’s a guy you have to appreciate, especially for me and other young, Black African-American guys,” Walker said. “He’s one of the guys who paved the way for so many of us.”
Also, former UConn and Blazers standout Clifford Robinson died Saturday.
“I definitely appreciate him for paving the way for a guy like me to be able to go to UConn and play at a high level,” Walker said. “He’s one of the guys who made that program for what it is. So rest in peace to those guys, man. It’s tough.”
Kemba Walker’s left leg is fine
Walker said he is fine after landing awkwardly on his left leg while contesting a shot in the paint late in the first half of Game 1 Sunday.
“Tweaked it a little bit, but it’s the nature of the game,” he said. “It happens. For the moment, it bothered me a little bit, but my adrenaline was pumping. A little sore last night, but I got some treatment. Doing everything I can to stay on top of it. I felt really good today actually. Hopefully I can continue to feel this way.”
Stevens said that Walker completed Monday’s practice.
Walker’s left knee pain has caused issues for him throughout this season. The Celtics proceeded cautiously with him in Orlando, keeping him on a strict minutes restriction during the seeding games as he built up strength for the playoffs.