Gordon Hayward nearly out of quarantine, injury timetable unclear

The Boston Celtics may be getting a scoring boost with Gordon Hayward due to exit quarantine on Friday.

The Celtics have a chance to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, and a key piece may be available at some point in the series if Boston advances.

Forward Gordon Hayward is due to exit quarantine on Friday, and while he is still rehabbing an ankle injury from earlier in the playoffs, could play a crucial role in bringing the Celtics to their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.

While Hayward remains on the shelf with a sprained ankle, his return, should the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals or NBA Finals, could drastically alter the postseason landscape.

What could Gordon Hayward give the Celtics?

The former All-Star has had somewhat of a career resurgence in 2020, averaging 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and looking much more like his Utah self after fighting his way back from a nasty leg injury in his 2017 Boston debut.

Hayward ranked fourth on the team in scoring during the regular season, and a return to form could provide problems for opposing defenses. Accounting for Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Hayward simultaneously is an impossible task, and the Celtics have looked impressive even in his absence.

Adding a consistent scorer back into the fold could make Boston the favorites to come out of the East, and potentially set up a marquee NBA Finals matchup with the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. However, the 30-year-old must first focus on his rehab, as limited mobility could render him somewhat ineffective.

The Celtics have a chance to advance on Wednesday night, but could be destined for Game 7 if the Raptors find another gear with their backs against the wall.

Boston has looked dominant at times in this series, and the only thing separating Toronto from elimination at the moment is an OG Anunoby buzzer-beater. However, if the Celtics cannot find a way to close out the defending champs, speculation about Hayward’s possible return may all be for naught.