Gordon Hayward may return before Christmas

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Brad Stevens expects the Celtics will get one of their significant pieces back for their matchup with the Nuggets. At shootaround, the Celtics head coach told reporters Marcus Smart will be good to go for Friday’s game.

And the Celtics aren’t easing Smart back in. He’s prepared to cover Nuggets superstar big man Nikola Jokic a bit.

Marcus Smart said he anticipates spending some time guarding Nikola Jokic tonight.

— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 6, 2019

Now, when it comes to Gordon Hayward, he’s not there yet. But Stevens indicated Hayward is ahead of schedule, stating there’s an 80% chance the wing will return before Christmas.

Stevens said he believes Gordon Hayward is likely to return before the Christmas game with the #Raptors. Worked out again live against the assistant coaches. #Celtics

— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) December 6, 2019

Hayward was initially projected to miss approximately six weeks after he received surgery on his left hand to repair his fractured fourth metacarpal bone (ring finger) on November 9.

For more on Hayward, listen to 5 Out to hear ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski discuss the wing's future in Boston. 5 Out is available on WEEI.comRADIO.COMApple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Play and Stitcher.