By Max Tarlin (Basketball Wiz)
Celtics fans across the country’s jaws dropped collectively as All-Star Gordon Hayward lay on the ground with his ankle turned to the side.
It was an attempted alley-oop from Kyrie Irving that ended in Hayward leaving the arena in an aircast, diagnosed with a fractured tibia and a dislocated ankle. His season is most likely over.
Senior Daniel Polykoff said that as soon as it happened he could not breathe because of shock. “I felt like the season just went right out the door. It was a tragedy,” said Polykoff.
Freshman Aaron Fandel said that he was also shocked, and that all his hope for the season was gone in a matter of seconds. “The whole offseason we were changing a bunch of players and we felt like we had a great team, but it was all gone in 5 minutes,” said Fandel.
Junior Brent Huot said that his instant reaction was to look up Hayward’s injury history and recovery times for all leg injuries. “I was trying to gather information from other sources to see how long he would be out for,” said Huot.
Boston went all out trying to recruit Hayward in the offseason, and fans across the city celebrated as the team finally got a second go-to scorer to run the offense around. With him off the court, the opposing defenses would be forced to give less attention to All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.
Aaron Fandel says that the team will definitely suffer from the injury, but should still win around 45 games. “It will be a lot harder than it would have been,” said Fandel.
Huot says that the main problem the Celtics had coming into the season remains– their chemistry issues. “There are a lot of new and young players, so Brad Stevens is gonna have to draw up a lot of new plays,” said Huot.
Junior Rahul Gupta says that the injury puts them out of title contention, but they can still be a fourth seed in the weaker Eastern Conference. “I would put the Wizards, Raptors, and Cavs above them,” said Gupta.
Junior Jared Parker thinks that without Hayward, the Celtics are a middle of the road team. “They still have Kyrie Irving so they are gonna do fine, but they are not gonna be as insane,” said Parker.
Before they make the playoffs, however, the Celtics are going to need some young guys to step up and take his minutes. As a team with six rookies, and another three players still on their rookie deals, they must find players who are ahead of their years.
Fandel says that Jaylen Brown looks ready to take on a bigger role, and Jayson Tatum must do the same. “He was really polished coming out of college, and he must continue that in the NBA,” said Fandel.
Huot agrees, saying that Brown and Tatum are going to be called on earlier than expected. “Although they are young talent, they must step it up this season and play their best,” said Huot.
This injury is a reminder that games, seasons, and even careers can change in the blink of an eye. But Hayward will be back. In a message to fans, he said that it hurts him to not be on the court, but has already started the recovery process. “I’m gonna be alright,” said Hayward.