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Gordon Hayward returning to NBA bubble, not expected to play soon

Celtics F will be subject to quarantine upon arrival but coach Brad Stevens doesn’t expect him back in the lineup.

Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics drives against Tobias Harris of the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 17, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images

Boston Celtics F Gordon Hayward will be returning to the NBA bubble in Orlando on Sunday, per coach Brad Stevens. The forward will be subject to a four-day quarantine and after can return to the team. Stevens does not expect Hayward to be playing any time soon.

Hayward injured his ankle in Game 1 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. He was diagnosed with a Grade 3 sprain and was ruled out for at least a month. So Hayward’s target date would look like some time in the middle of September, possibly in the Eastern Conference Finals if the Celtics advance past the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

My thinking is even after Hayward is cleared for basketball activities and ready to return, Stevens won’t let him back into the lineup. If the Celtics are still around, why mess with chemistry? Hayward would likely come off the bench and play around 10-15 minutes if/when he returns. Whether or not he gets back into the starting lineup for Marcus Smart is still to be seen. I wouldn’t bet on Hayward coming back and making a huge impact.