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Getty Gordon Hayward of the Celtics.

The margin of victory in Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals between the Heat and the Celtics was razor-thin. Boston led for the bulk of the game and went into the fourth quarter with a 12-point lead, a scenario that almost certainly should have led to a win.

But Miami was able to pull back to the Celtics and force an overtime period, in which they were able to seal a win only when center Bam Adebayo blocked the dunk attempt of Boston star Jayson Tatum with 2.5 seconds remaining.

If ever there was a time when Boston missed the injured Gordon Hayward, it was during the tense closing minutes of that game, especially as Tatum, the team’s top scorer, closed out in a 2-for-10 slump in the fourth quarter and overtime.

But the Celtics are still not sure where they stand with Hayward as he attempts to come back from the Grade III sprained ankle he suffered in Boston’s postseason opener against Philadelphia last month.

“I have no real update on him,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters on Wednesday.

But there is a plan. Hayward will go through a workout with Boston’s medical staff and trainers later in the day and, based on how that workout goes, the Celtics should know more about whether Hayward will be available for Game 2.

Brad Stevens has no update on Gordon Hayward. He will do a workout later today.

— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) September 16, 2020

Gordon Hayward Suffered Ankle Injury 4 Weeks Ago

Hayward has been out since August 18 with the ankle injury. Tuesday’s Game 1 was played on September 15, exactly four weeks after Hayward suffered the injury. The original timetable for Hayward’s return was four weeks.

Gordon Hayward Ankle Injury! Celtics vs 76ers Playoffs2020-08-18T00:55:37Z

The farther the Celtics get from that projected return date, the less production they may get from Hayward in his return. Presumably, Hayward will have some rust in his game left over from not playing in more than a month. It will be a challenge for Stevens to work him into the rotation if he is not completely up to speed while fighting for critical wins in the series.

Marcus Smart Has Started in Place of Hayward

Without Hayward available, the Celtics moved Marcus Smart into the starting five and he wound up playing a critical role in Boston’s wins over Toronto—and had a hand in the losses. Smart was brilliant in the first two games, scoring 40 total points on 12-for-23 shooting (11-for-20 from the 3-point line). Smart went 6-for-23 from the field and 3-for-15 from the 3-point line in the next two games, scoring just 19 points.

He regained his footing to close the Raptors series, averaging 17.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists, shooting 44.7% in the final three games—and closing out the Raptors with an important blocked shot on a layup attempt late in Game 7.

Smart was outstanding to start the series against the Heat, scoring 26 points, making 6-of-13 from the 3-point line, and helping limit Heat star Jimmy Butler to 20 points.

Still, it would be a luxury for the Celtics to be able to pull Smart off the bench in a series against Miami. As Smart said earlier in the summer, he will be ready either way.

“[My mentality] is the same, my role is different, starting and coming off the bench, but energy-wise it’s the same,” Smart said last month when Hayward was injured, according to the Boston Globe. “Starting doesn’t require me to really be more of an offensive threat. So I can spend most of my energy on the defensive, as opposed to coming off the bench I have to be a little more assertive.”

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No Matter What Happens, the Nets Trade Will Always Be a Huge Success For Boston

This Is Us Begins Filming, Gives First Look at 2020 Sex Scene The worst car problems you can have No Matter What Happens, the Nets Trade Will Always Be a Huge Success For Boston

The Boston Celtics are down 3-1 to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. The odds are not in their favor to advance to the NBA Finals, which would mark the third time in four years that Boston has gotten all the way to the ECF but couldn't get over the hump and fight for the right to earn a ring.

© Provided by The Big Lead Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum

Boston has not only lost three games to a very good Heat team, they've done so in exceptionally disappointing fashion. Each of the three losses could have been victories if not for terrible turnovers and the occasional inexplicable defensive lapse. It's frustrating for Boston fans, but at the end of the day, they still have one of the best young cores in the NBA with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum as their cornerstones.

The Celtics would not have Brown or Tatum if it weren't for the infamous trade with the Brooklyn Nets in 2012, when Danny Ainge cleaned out then-Nets GM Billy King. In case you need a refresher, Boston sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to Brooklyn for four first-round picks and salary filler. It gave Boston two top-three selections and a third lottery pick they used to acquire Kyrie Irving.

The reason I bring all this up is that the Celtics' likely failure to advance to the NBA Finals was apparently enough to spark a discussion about whether or not that trade was actually a win for Boston, since the Nets are now championship contenders for 2021 after signing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant last offseason. Andrew Bogusch, Shaun Morash, and Damon Amendolara of CBS Sports touched upon the topic on today's edition of The DA Show.

Morash is convinced that the trade can only be seen as a disaster if the Nets hoist a championship trophy before Boston does.

This was a good ol’ fashioned knock down, drag out over the Celtics/Nets past/trade/future.

— Damon Amendolara (@DAonCBS) September 24, 2020

This is a certifiably insane take. That trade is objectively successful by any measure. Boston sent two aging stars who had one year left in the tank and a role player. In exchange, they ended up with two players who will keep them in regular title contention for the next five years at least and probably longer. The goal is to win a title, and it would be quite a disappointment if this young core never reached that mountain top. But I don't think anybody in the Celtics building at any point ever would say that they wish they didn't pull off that trade, which feels like a qualifying factor to label a trade disastrous.

I don't think even the Nets would agree that trade was a disaster for Boston. I'm sure they would have liked to have had those picks and maybe landed players like Irving and Durant earlier. It wasn't some type of grand master plan where they completely bottom out with apparently no hope and then build a good culture to lure high-level free agents. They're probably thrilled everything worked out, but the path they walked was not an easy one and not one they ever want to tread again.

It's just dumb. I would perhaps entertain an argument that this year's ECF has been a disaster given the talent discrepancy. But the trade that got the Celtics to this point? Calling it anything other than a resounding success is absurd.

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