Though he appears to be progressing fine in his rehab after suffering an ankle sprain in their opening-round playoff series, Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is still a ways off from actually stepping back onto the court.
He will, however, be rejoining the team inside the NBA’s bubble at Walt Disney World “soon.”
Hayward’s ankle rehab ‘going OK’
Hayward went down in Game 1 of the Celtics’ opening-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers with a Grade 3 ankle sprain two weeks ago. Team doctors initially expected him to miss about four weeks.
Hayward was planning to leave the bubble in September anyway, so that he could be with his wife for the birth of their fourth child. He said after suffering the injury that he hoped to coordinate that with his ankle recovery in order to give him a better shot at getting back on the floor quicker.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens didn’t specify exactly when Hayward will return to the bubble — he’ll have to quarantine for at least four days once he does so, too — but Stevens said Monday after practice that he expects that to happen “soon.”
“His rehab seems to be going OK,” Stevens said. “He feels a little bit better. Still has a pretty significant amount of ... I don’t think his gait is perfect yet. Once his gait feels right and becomes perfect, he’s probably on a quicker course to coming back.
“I think he’ll rejoin us in the bubble at some point soon, but he still will be some time away when he does do that.”
Hayward was averaging 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season, his 10th in the league.
Thankfully for Hayward, the Celtics have been fine without him.
The team swept the 76ers to advance out of the first round, and flew to an 18-point win against the Toronto Raptors to grab an early 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
If he can make it back and be cleared by team doctors to return by the four-week mark, Hayward could potentially be playing again in the Eastern Conference finals — assuming that they make it past the defending champions.
While Stevens seemed happy with the progress the 30-year-old has made, Hayward didn’t sound confident in the immediate aftermath of his injury.
“I heard it and I felt it, and I knew it wasn’t just your casual rolled ankle,” Hayward said before leaving the bubble. “It immediately, it was swollen by the time I was leaving the court. I knew it was definitely worse than normal.”
More from Yahoo Sports: