Latest posts by Ashish Mathur (see all)
- Nuggets’ Thomas joins Hart to talk Celtics, Cavs - September 11, 2018
- Sources: Celtics’ Irving, Hayward ‘look impressive’ in pickup play - September 7, 2018
- Scott wants to patch things up with Kidd - September 7, 2018
Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving and small forward Gordon Hayward “look impressive” in the pickup games they have played at the practice facility in advance of training camp, a league source told Amico Hoops on Friday.
Irving underwent season-ending knee surgery in April, while Hayward suffered a fractured left ankle in the Celtics’ season-opening loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 17, 2017. Both players have been taking part in full speed training for almost a month. Hayward is expected to be cleared for five-on-five play next week, sources said.
Irving averaged 24.4 points and 5.1 assists in 60 regular season games with the Celtics last season, shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from beyond the arc. The All-Star is set to make $20.1 million in 2018-19 and can become an unrestricted free-agent in 2019 if he declines his player option for the 2019-20 season.
After spending the first seven years of his career with the Utah Jazz, Hayward signed a four-year, $127.8 million free-agent deal with the Celtics in the summer of 2017, reuniting him with his college coach, Brad Stevens. Boston went to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018 and was a game away from reaching the NBA Finals. They did all that without the services of Irving and Hayward, so expect the Celtics to be even more dangerous with its two stars back.
Hayward’s trainer, Drew Hanlen, said in July Hayward was working on primarily isolation drills so the swingman can get better at creating his own shot off the dribble.
“His biggest thing is being able to create his own shot,” Hanlen said. “We want him to be able to create his own shot better. Playmaking is our No. 2 focus – being able to drive-and-kick and find shooters and just become a better passer.
“Then, No. 3 is giving him a mid-post game because we know a lot of teams in the NBA are starting to switch 1-through-4 or 1-through-5 and especially with the Celtics, with Al Horford playing as their 5 sometimes. We know a lot of teams are going to switch 1-through-5 and Gordon can be involved as a screener and get smaller guys on him. Basically, his main thing is isolation stuff, whether it’s mid-post or perimeter-oriented, and then becoming a better playmaker so that he can continue to make plays with all of those talented guys that the Celtics have around him.”
The Celtics have the best odds to reach the Finals from the Eastern Conference, according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. They sit at 5/1.