Celtics’ Stevens: Hayward doing ‘great’ after removal of screws

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward says he intends to be ready for the season-opening game.

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens says small forward Gordon Hayward is progressing well after his May 31 procedure to remove a plate and screws from his surgically repaired left leg.

Hayward fractured his left ankle in the Celtics’ season-opening loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 17 and missed the entire season.

“He’s doing great,” Stevens said. “All success. Everything is good and pointed toward being back exactly where he was. Hopefully pain-free because that plate is taken out, which probably points to an early August, mid August fully cleared time frame.”

In March, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said Hayward sustained a minor setback in his recovery and began to experience some pain related to the plate in his ankle.

Hayward has been training in Indianapolis working with a running mechanics specialist.

“It was like hey, if you’re having this pain and we need to do this, let’s do it now, right?” Stevens said. “And he was working really hard in Indy and he looked really good. Like, he was getting close to being able to do some two-on-two, three-on-three. But he just had a little bit of pain in the back side of his foot and that’s why they decided to remove the plate.”

With both Hayward and point guard Kyrie Irving expected to be healthy next season, the Celtics are primed to contend for a championship. Without Irving and Hayward during this year’s postseason, Boston took LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, so one would surmise they will be even more lethal with their two stars back.