Photo credit: Michael Dwyer/AP

The Boston Celtics are 33-10 and solidly in the NBA’s top tier, but in a world in which Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are still breathing, being a really good team isn’t quite enough. So you can’t blame anyone for looking at what the Celtics have done this year and thinking Yeah, but what if they had Gordon Hayward?

Hayward, of course, only made it a few minutes into the season before suffering a horrific ankle break that seemed to assure he wouldn’t be back on the court any time this season. But since then there have only been reports that Hayward’s recovery is progressing well, and yesterday Celtics GM Danny Ainge slyly revealed that the star forward is no longer wearing a brace on his ankle:

Hayward followed up with a suggestive emoji:

A pair of encouraging tweets is a long way from a headline announcing Hayward’s return to the lineup, nor are they an indication that he’s close to being medically cleared. Still, this is fun. It’s fun to imagine what an already fantastic Celtics team would look like with one of the best small forwards in the league inserted into the lineup; it’s fun to imagine what kind of fight that team might give the Cavaliers in the playoffs; it’s even more fun to try and convince yourself that maybe, maybe, the Celtics and Hayward could give the Warriors a hard time in the Finals.

Advertisement

Is this all dangerous wishful thinking? Yes, probably, but when the Warriors are looming a the end of every NBA season and inevitably sucking some of the drama out of the proceedings, I think it’s okay to indulge a bit of fantasy.