LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida. – With the exception of the pre-game warm-ups, there is considerable optimism in the Boston Celtics that striker Gordon Hayward will return to the squad for Match 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against Miami Heath on Saturday night, ESPN sources said.
Hayward missed a month with a sprained right ankle, but in recent days has advanced to the top on Saturday, with the Celtics trailing by 2-0 in the best of seven series.
The Celtics improved their status to questionable for Game 3 on Friday.
Hayward has had an outstanding season for Boston – averaging 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists – and his return delivers much-needed firepower from the Boston bench. Hayward has shot 38% on 3 points this season and 50% off the floor.
The 30-year-old Hayward suffered an ankle sprain in Game 1 of the first-round series against Philadelphia on Aug. 17 and left the Disney Wide World of Sports campus to recover before returning recently.