The fate of forward Gordon Hayward, who fractured his left hand in a collision with the San Antonio Spurs' LaMarcus Aldridge on Saturday night, is set to be determined by a specialist before Boston takes the court against Dallas. Whether or not surgery is deemed necessary, the Celtics are prepared to be without Hayward for an extended time as they near a daunting West Coast swing.
"It's tough," swingman Jaylen Brown said. "I don't know what the timetable is, but that's tough to deal with an injury, especially (because) Gordon's playing really well right now, and we're leaning on him to help us with this season and this run that we're trying to make."
Hayward entered Saturday's game against the Spurs averaging 20.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game during Boston's hot start. The former All-Star had finally been looking like his old self for the first time since a devastating leg injury cut his 2017-18 campaign short one game in.
"Every year you go through stuff, where different things happen, and different guys go down," coach Brad Stevens said. "We've already seen some guys, some really good players in this league, get hurt, and it's up to everybody else to pick up the slack and do their jobs. This one doesn't feel nearly as bad as it did two years ago. He'll be back. He'll be off for a few weeks or a month or whatever he is."
With Hayward sidelined, Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart could each see upticks in playing time to help fill the void. Brown led with 30 points, Tatum had 19 and Smart added 16 off the bench in Saturday's 135-115 rout of San Antonio.
"We just need guys to step up," said point guard Kemba Walker, who scored 26 in the victory. "Now it's our opportunity for other guys until he comes back, and we just have to hold the fort down."
The Celtics play two at home starting against the Mavericks before embarking on a five-game road trip that includes tough tests against the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. In years past, Boston might have been able to look past Dallas, but this season's club is off to a hot start of its own.
The Mavericks have won six of nine to begin the year. Dallas rebounded from a home loss to the New York Knicks on Friday to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 138-122 Saturday, Luka Doncic leading the way with 24 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in falling just short of his fifth triple-double of the young season.
"It was a great game, and we needed to bounce back," said Doncic. "It was a team effort and we got a win."
Kristaps Porzingis was held out Saturday to rest his surgically repaired knee.
In addition to Hayward, the Celtics might still be without big man Enes Kanter, who has been out since the team's season opener with a left knee contusion. Kanter is nearing his return after being upgraded to questionable last week.
Boston has beat Dallas in five of its last six meetings.
--Field Level Media