Gordon Hayward has not had the best of starts to the new NBA season and after missing almost the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a severe foot injury, he is struggling to recapture his best form.
The Boston Celtics small forward has played all 21 games thus far this season, which is comforting especially after coming back from such a horrific looking injury, but he has failed to live up to the pre-season expectations of forming a successful partnership with Kyrie Irving.
Hayward has averaged just 10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists over 26.7 minutes per game, which is a poor record for the 2017 NBA All-Star. He started the season as part of the starting five under head coach Brad Stevens, but has since lost his place.
The 28-year-old forward has been the sixth man in the last five games and his poor form has coincided with the Celtics’ patchy form, which currently sees them seventh on the Eastern Conference table with an 11-10 record.
However, Irving, who has been leading the charge for the Celtics this season with some crucial performances — especially in the big games against East rivals Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks — is confident that a different Hayward will be seen in the coming games.
The Celtics point guard revealed after practice on Thursday he had spoken to Hayward and asked the forward to be more aggressive in his offensive game. He wants his teammate to shoot more during games.
“Honestly, I think that he’s passing a little too much for Gordon’s potential and his talent,” Irving said, as quoted on the Boston Herald. “I think, coming up in the next few games, he’ll be able to show some different things that he’s been on for the start of the season. Just being more aggressive offensively and looking for his shot more.”
“We had practice yesterday and I told him, ‘Look for your shot more. Get aggressive and get yourself going because you are a great talent in this league and I don’t want you to ever forget that,’” the five-time NBA All-Star added. “Of course, he does a great job of coming off the pick-and-roll and making those passes, but I want him to be aggressive and score the basketball for us as well because we are going to need it down the stretch.”
The Celtics face the second worst team in the NBA on Friday night when they take on four-time back-to-back Eastern Conference champions the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James’ former team have lost their way since their star player left for the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.
The Cavaliers have managed just four wins in 20 games, but the Phoenix Suns are a touch worse having lost one game more. The Celtics will be favorites going into the game, but they have also had their struggles in the first quarter of the campaign.