Despite losing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward last season, the Boston Celtics still managed to reach the Eastern Conference finals and force a Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. With both superstars expected to rejoin the Celtics in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season, the Celtics are currently considered the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
However, as of now, there are still some questions whether Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are already back at full strength. Hayward missed the entire 2017-18 NBA season after suffering a fractured tibia and dislocated ankle in his first game as a Celtic. Aside from the physical damage, some people believe that the injury also affects Hayward’s confidence.
Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens doesn’t seem to be worried about Gordon Hayward’s physical and mental health. Stevens admitted that Hayward is still undergoing a period of adjustment, but he is confident that the 28-year-old small forward can regain his All-Star form.
“I’m not concerned about that,” Stevens said, per Masslive. “I think that’s just part of a recovery path to playing, and that’s just part of it. But that’s one of the reasons why he wanted to push his rehab and get himself to the point where he was doing one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three and then cleared to play five-on-five well before the season started — so he was in those situations. And the first time that I saw him actually do just even one-on-one, you could tell he was a lot more comfortable landing and jumping and landing even against another guy, up under him.”
Unlike Gordon Hayward, it was the second time Kyrie Irving suffered a season-ending injury so Coach Brad Stevens strongly believes the All-Star point guard already knows how to handle himself. In a recent Instagram video posted by Irv Roland, Irving already looked like his old self, playing without any sign of injury. According to Mass Live, Stevens revealed that Irving is “working really hard” this summer and “very excited” for the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season.
Making sure that both Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving are 100 percent healthy, physically and mentally, will be vital for the Celtics, especially with their goal to win the NBA championship title next season. Aside from that, Coach Brad Stevens will need to figure out how he can insert both superstars in the starting lineup without affecting the effectiveness of their young players like Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier, who all played a major role in the Celtics’ success last season.