Boston Celtics: Gordon Hayward will either elevate or disrupt the C’s

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#20 of the Boston Celtics warms up prior to playing the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on October 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Gordon Hayward will either elevate or disrupt the Boston Celtics’ championship aspirations

The date was October 17, 2017. It was the much-anticipated NBA season opener between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The game was also both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward’s debut in a Celtics’ uniform. For Irving, it was his return to Cleveland (who he requested a trade from in the offseason), and, for Hayward, it was his return to being under the direction of head coach Brad Stevens – who he played under at Butler University.

The game began. Three-to-four minutes in, it was a competitive game between the two teams who many expected to face-off in the Eastern Conference Finals. Then, tragedy struck. Just over five minutes into the game, Hayward went up for an alley-oop, came down awkwardly, and broke his left ankle.

The game stopped for several minutes as the All-Star forward was helped off the court. Players and teams felt for both Hayward and the Celtics. And some felt their season was over.

Instead, the Celtics went 55-27 and were the second seed in the East. Although, they lost to the Cavs in a heartbreaking Game 7 loss at home in the Eastern Conference Finals, the season was viewed as a remarkable success. So, with Hayward and Irving (who missed the playoffs with a knee injury) coming back healthy for the 2018-19 season, will the Celtics reach the NBA Finals?

While the idea that Hayward and Irving’s return make Boston a lock to reach the Finals sounds nice, it’s no certainty. In fact, Hayward’s return will either elevate or disrupt the Celtics’ championship aspirations.

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