Forward Gordon Hayward completed contact drills against Celtics coaches Tuesday as he continues to move closer to his return after suffering a broken left hand last month.
“It’s definitely sore, and I think that’s something I’ve got to work through,” Hayward said. “I’ve got to work through that to make my hand stronger, and hopefully over the next couple of days I can do that and get it kind of more the same strength of my right hand.
“I think it’s going to be a little while, and, plus, I was right-hand-dominant anyway. So it’s definitely going to probably not be the exact same, but get it more strengthened so the percentage is closer to my right.”
Hayward suffered the injury when he collided with LaMarcus Aldridge in the Celtics’ Nov. 9 win over San Antonio. He underwent surgery two days later and was ruled out for six weeks.
Hayward said last weekend that he believed he was progressing ahead of schedule, but on Tuesday he acknowledged that he was uncertain about when he might return. He is eager to test the hand in less-scripted practice situations and anticipates dealing with some pain for most of this year.
“It’s definitely something where, hopefully not the rest of the season, but certainly a lengthy part of the season, I’m going to have to continue to get treatment, continue to ice it, and kind of manage some of the symptoms,” Hayward said. “I don’t want it to get hit again, but I’m sure it will get hit again, and when that happens, it’ll be sore. So I’ll manage that.”
Hayward said he will look into wearing some kind of pad or wrap on the hand when he comes back, but he generally prefers not to because it can affect his play. He is grateful that he has been able to maintain his conditioning, however.
“It’s been great,” he said. “This injury is nothing compared to the last one. Any time you just injure something in your upper body, at least you can be doing legs and moving around. Jumping, that’s huge, in my opinion.”
Garnett on Irving
Former Celtics star Kevin Garnett said Tuesday that he is not surprised Kyrie Irving left Boston to sign with the Nets because he doesn’t have the mental makeup needed to thrive in the city.
“Boston’s a tough town, dog,” Garnett told reporters in New York while promoting “Uncut Gems,” his new film starring Adam Sandler. “You got to want that. The people want it for you. That’s why Paul [Pierce] is perfect for it. Paul wants the shot every time. Like, ‘You’re 0 for 14.’ And he’s like, ‘I know, but they want it.’ ”
In October 2018, Irving told a large group of Celtics season ticket-holders that he intended to re-sign with Boston at season’s end. But then the season went sour, and just over one month after the Celtics were defeated by the Bucks in five games in the conference semifinals, Irving agreed to a four-year deal with the Nets.
He didn’t play in Brooklyn’s two games against the Celtics last week while he is sidelined with a shoulder injury. When the Nets came to Boston last Wednesday without Irving, the night was filled with anti-Irving chants anyway.
Smart is hurting
Guard Marcus Smart missed practice because of an illness and a sore oblique, and coach Brad Stevens said he will be listed as doubtful for Wednesday’s game against the Heat.
Smart injured his oblique when he tried to take a charge on Kevin Knox during the win over the Knicks Sunday. Smart was helped off the court and did not return. A left oblique injury forced Smart to miss the first round of last year’s playoffs, too.
He has been dealing with plenty of bumps and bruises this year. Stevens was asked whether the team might consider sitting him out for a stretch to regroup.
“We’re open to that with any of the guys,” Stevens said. “We’ve talked to them about it. And if our training staff thinks there’s something that is really nagging a guy, then they will certainly suggest it.
“This is a decision that will be based on if he can get over being sick, which he was pretty under the weather today. And then the oblique, which is obviously, with his past, we’re just alert to.
“Sounds like it’s just like a contusion, so that’s good, but that doesn’t mean it’s not super sore. And if it’s super sore, he’s not going to play.”
Stevens said rookie Romeo Langford’s most recent ankle injury, suffered in the Maine Red Claws’ win Sunday, does not appear to be as serious as feared. Langford has remained in Maine and will continue to practice there instead of returning to Boston to begin another round of rehabilitation.