Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward won’t rule out a potential return to the court before the Playoffs begin. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is ferociously working himself back to being in full health, with hopes set on returning before the regular season comes to a close. Hayward, in his first game as a Celtic, went down to a gruesome ankle injury just minutes into the contest and was believed to be out for the season.

While Hayward may not wind up returning this season, he says he’ll come back as soon as he feels ‘1000 percent confident’ in his leg.

“It’s definitely in the back of my mind,” Hayward told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, not ruling out a potential return before the end of the season. “I’m definitely pushing to get back as fast as I can, while making sure that I still have a lot of good years of basketball in me. And coming back early and hurting something else is not part of that plan. So I’m making sure that if I come back, I’m 1,000 percent confident in myself and my leg. I hope more than anything I can play this season. That would be awesome. But that’s not something I’m stressing about. I’m stressing about what I can do today to help myself get better.”

Hayward was one of the NBA’s top players at the small forward position last season, averaging 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 47 percent shooting per game with the Jazz. He signed a monster four-year, maximum salary deal to join the Celtics in July after spending seven seasons with Utah.

For Boston, several players have stepped up in the team’s first 27 games without Hayward, including Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart. The Celtics own the NBA’s best record at 22-5 despite being without Hayward.

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