When Celtics forward Gordon Hayward met with reporters on Wednesday night for the first time since breaking his left hand on Saturday, his splint was covered with stickers placed there by a pair of young artists.
“Yeah, we’ve got Charlotte Hayward and Bernadette Hayward,” Hayward said, referring to his two young daughters. “Some of my favorite things: puppies, unicorns, rainbows. I tried to get them to not use purple and go with some green but they were pretty adamant about the colors they picked, so I guess an artist is going to be an artist.”
After suffering a gruesome ankle injury that sidelined him for essentially all of the 2017-18 season and limited him throughout last season, Hayward is taking this more minor setback in stride.
He suffered the injury when he collided with Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge in the first half of Saturday’s game and had a pin and a plate inserted during surgery on Tuesday.
Hayward is expected to be sidelined for about six weeks, but he is grateful that he will return with plenty of time to make a difference this season.
He had a hot start, averaging 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game while making 55.5 percent of his shots.
“Happy that it shouldn’t be that long,” Hayward said. “Obviously frustrated. It sucks watching and not being able to go out there and play, especially with the start that we’ve had. I think this time around, I’ll be able to run around, use my legs still, maintain my conditioning, which I’m very thrilled about, and then be around the team and kind of stay involved, which is good.”
Hayward is wearing a removable splint that he said will allow him to do some exercises during his early rehab that would not have been possible while wearing a cast. He said he was also lucky that he did not injure his shooting hand.
Former Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas returned to TD Garden with the Wizards on Wednesday. Thomas was a two-time All-Star with the Celtics before a hip injury cut short his stirring run in the 2017 playoffs and slowed him for the last two seasons.
“It’s fun to see this early part of the year, after he got through the training camp injury on his hand, to get back through more quickly than everyone anticipated, because he loves to play,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “Got out on the court and ultimately now is playing well. We’re obviously well aware of what he’s capable of, but he’s a special guy, and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Thomas signed a one-year deal with Washington last summer and quickly moved from the bench to the starting lineup.
He entered Wednesday averaging 13.2 points and 6.2 assists this season, and finished with 18 points in the Wizards’ 140-133 loss.
“We know Isaiah’s talent,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said. “His health has been up and down, but it’s good to see him healthy and that somebody gave him a chance, and he’s doing well with it. You can’t keep people like that down for long. It’s only a matter of time for him to have a breakout game, or breakout season or something.”
Walter McCarty, who played for the Celtics from 1997-2005 and served as an assistant coach under Stevens before being hired as the University of Evansville’s head coach two years ago, guided the Purple Aces to a stunning upset of No. 1 Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Tuesday night.
“It’s great for Walter and a tremendous thing for those kids in that program and for that program,” Stevens said. “The biggest thing I can say is that it builds a belief. When you come back to practice, when you get ready for the next game and go through the scouting report, there’s a little more intent.
“Everybody has a little more focus on what they can accomplish if everyone puts their heads together and works together.”
Stevens and Celtics assistant coach Jamie Young said they both exchanged text messages with McCarty after the big win.
Williams, Theis out
Celtics centers Robert Williams (ankle) and Daniel Theis (finger) missed Wednesday’s game. Theis was injured in the first half of the Celtics’ win against the Mavericks on Monday. He returned to that game and took part in Wednesday morning’s shootaround but told the team’s medical staff he did not feel comfortable enough to play. Williams is dealing with a sore ankle. Stevens said both players are expected to accompany the team on its upcoming road trip . . . Enes Kanter, who returned Monday after missing seven games because of a knee contusion, started at center against the Wizards.