ORLANDO — Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is close to being out of quarantine in the NBA bubble and has continued his rehabilitation from a badly sprained right ankle in hopes of a return for a potential appearance in the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat.
The Celtics lost to the Raptors, 125-122, in double overtime Wednesday to force a seventh game in their semifinal series.
Hayward, who sprained his ankle in Game 1 of the first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers, left the bubble Aug. 23 to be with his pregnant wife, Robyn, and his three daughters. Hayward returned to Orlando Sunday and began his quarantine.
Hayward, who is allowed to spend 30 minutes a day outside, worked with Celtics trainer Art Horne, walking through grass without shoes on to strengthen the ankle. Hayward was walking without a limp. His quarantine ends Friday.
The Celtics said Hayward would miss 4-6 weeks with the Grade 3 sprain, and Sunday is the four-week mark. The team has set no further timetable for his return but Hayward, a former All-Star, would boost a team that is one win from the Eastern finals.
Hayward has dealt with various injuries throughout his Celtics tenure but was completely healthy and playing perhaps his best ball since signing with Boston before the ankle injury.
It’s uncertain whether Hayward would leave the bubble again when his wife is close to delivering his first son. He said several weeks ago he would leave the bubble for that occasion, but that was before the ankle injury and a return to Boston for two weeks.
Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.