LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Barring a setback in pregame warm-ups, there’s significant optimism within the Boston Celtics that forward Gordon Hayward will make a return to the lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat on Saturday night, sources told ESPN.
Hayward has missed a month with a right ankle sprain, but has progressed in recent days to the cusp of a return on Saturday with the Celtics trailing the Heat 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
The Celtics upgraded his status to questionable for Game 3 on Friday.
Hayward has had an outstanding season for Boston — averaging 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists — and his return delivers some desperately needed firepower from the Boston bench. Hayward has shot 38% on 3-pointers this season and 50% from the floor.
Hayward, 30, suffered the ankle sprain in Game 1 of the first-round series against Philadelphia on Aug. 17 and left the Disney Wide World of Sports campus to rehab before recently returning.