Boston Celtics: Takeaways from preseason opener vs. Charlotte Hornets

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

Gordon Hayward back after injury

Nothing from last night’s game was more exciting than the long-awaited return of Gordon Hayward.

It almost felt like a fairy tale. Last we saw Hayward in a game, he was being carted off the court after one of the most gruesome NBA injuries on record. Nearly a full calendar year later, he returns like the knight who’d been banished from the kingdom. He didn’t have to score a bucket; just watching him run around was surreal enough.

He did score, though. Hayward turned in ten points on 2-7 shooting and 5-7 shooting from the free throw line – the refs seemed to be a little protective of Hayward, which his wife surely appreciated.

He logged a team-high 23 minutes, which is incredibly encouraging after so much time off. It’s not a lot, but Stevens having the confidence to let him lead the team in minutes is a nice sign.

Physically, he didn’t seem inhibited. He showed nice speed on drives to the hoop and none of his movements seemed awkward or hindered. His first points came from an offensive rebound in transition.

Two years ago he would have dunked that. In a postgame interview, he said he just physically didn’t have the burst to get up there for a dunk; that should come later. But seeing him race down the court is another good sign.

He was largely tentative, which was unsurprising. He played like a guy who was new to the team and trying not to get in the way. While he did display some of the passing and quick decision making that made him such a great system-player in Utah, Boston Celtics fans will certainly be waiting and hoping for him to get back to attacking the rim and looking for his shot.