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Report: Gordon Hayward available to play in Game 3 vs. Heat [UPDATE]

Celtics SF returns to lineup after injuring ankle in first round of playoffs.

Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics warms up prior to the game against the Toronto Raptors in Game seven of the second round of the 2020 Playoffs as part of the NBA Restart 2020 on September 11, 2020 at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

UPDATE: Sept. 19, 7:36 p.m. — Hayward will be available to play in Game 3 off the bench, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.

UPDATE: Sept. 19, 7:07 p.m. — Hayward will be a game-time call for Game 3 vs. the Heat and will be on a minutes restriction off the bench if he returns to the lineup.

UPDATE: Sept. 19, 2:00 p.m. — There is optimism that Hayward will be able to return to the lineup for Game 3 vs. the Heat, barring a setback in warmups, per Woj.

This was my initial thought after seeing Hayward get upgraded to questionable on Friday. It’s clear the Celtics are running out of time down 2-0 to the Heat and desperation has sunk in. So it appears Hayward will most likely be back in the lineup in some capacity Saturday night. I still wouldn’t expect much from Hayward coming off the ankle sprain. He’ll likely have his minutes monitored throughout the game off the bench.

We could see the line move in favor of the Celtics a bit after this news. Boston had been solid through two series, so many expect a response after the altercation in the locker room after Game 2. We’ll see what the line on DKSB looks like once its posted following this news.

UPDATE: Sept. 18, 6:32 p.m. Hayward has been upgraded to questionable to return to the lineup in Game 3 vs. the Heat on Saturday.

With the Celtics down 2-0 to the Heat, you’ve got to think that desperation is sinking in when it comes to Hayward returning. It may be now or never. If Hayward gets back in there for Game 3, I still think he’ll come off the bench and maybe play 15-20 minutes tops. Hayward likely won’t have much time to make an impact but he does add another element to the Celtics offense that could be useful.

Boston Celtics F Gordon Hayward was ruled out for Game 2 vs. the Miami Heat on Thursday. Hayward had been upgraded to doubtful for Game 2 on Wednesday, trying to work his way back from a bad ankle sprain. He was injured in Game 1 of the first round vs. the Philadelphia 76ers and hasn’t been able to play since.

It’s only a matter of time before Hayward will be back in the lineup, though the Celtics don’t have any reason to rush him back. Boston has looked fine without Hayward. Had it not been for the block of the century by Bam Adebayo on Jayson Tatum in OT of Game 1, the Celtics are more than likely leading the series 1-0. With Hayward still out, we should see Marcus Smart in the starting lineup, ready to continue to chuck up 3-point shots and play defense for 40+ minutes.

I’ve said before, I don’t think Hayward’s return will impact this series and the Celtics’ title hopes drastically. If/When Hayward is back, he’ll likely come off the bench and be eased back into action. Coach Brad Stevens already has his rotation set in stone and it’s worked pretty well up to this point. I don’t see a reason for Stevens to change things just to get Hayward involved. With that said, it doesn’t hurt having a former All-Star coming off the bench in the playoffs.