The wait is over for Gordon Hayward and the Boston Celtics.
Gordon was finally was able to return to game action on Friday night in the Celtics’ preseason opener against the Charlotte Hornets, his first contest since his gruesome injury on opening night last season.
The Celtics ultimately lost the game 104-97, but for No. 20 and the Celtics, the contest was a success in its own way. Boston got back one of their top players and Gordon was able to go out and play the game he loves once again, something he questioned if he would ever do last October.
“I’ve been through a lot this past year, so just to be out there in front of the fans, playing with my teammates, there were moments that I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do that,” he said. “So, that was definitely a win.”
While it didn’t provide the jolt that will come with Gordon’s first regular season game, scheduled for Oct. 18 in Boston, the exhibition game at the University of North Carolina’s Dean Smith Center, provided G with the opportunity to get back into the flow of NBA action and to continue developing chemistry with his teammates.
Most importantly, No. 20 was able to show he is healthy, and he can continue to build off of his performance for the rest of the preseason heading into the regular season.
“Definitely good to get that one out of the way,” Gordon said afterward. “Didn’t feel like I played my best basketball, but I was having fun out there and it was good to be back with the guys. Definitely had some good moments, some bad ones.”
No. 20’s first bucket came off of an offensive rebound, which led to an easy put-back. Gordon finished with 10 points and three rebounds in 23 minutes in his first game back from the injury. The game wasn’t perfect for G-Time, but that is to be expected as he continues to re-acclimate himself to NBA competition, and as he rebuilds his confidence in his legs.
“The one cut to the rim, I usually would have dunked that one. Tried to go up off my leg and just didn’t have it, I guess,” Hayward said. “So, that stuff I think will come back, that little explosion. I’m certain of that. … It was just the speed of the game, just the crowd, that’s something I need to get used to again.”
But one thing is for certain. The Celtics are pleased to have Gordon back healthy, especially to start the preseason. That will give No. 20 and his team a full training camp and preseason to prep for a grueling 82-game season, one Boston hopes will run through June, with a trip to the NBA Finals.
Gordon figures to be a key component in that, so regardless of the outcome, mark Friday night down as a big win for Boston.