Boston Celtics winger Gordon Hayward joined the squad for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday as the Celtics beat the Heat 117-106 to end the series at 2- 1.
Hayward, who missed a month with a Grade 3 ankle sprain, returned to Indiana to spend time with his wife and family while injured. When the bubble started, he told reporters he was planning to leave for the birth of his son – his wife is due to give birth this month.
Now, however, Hayward has said he plans to stay with the Celtics for the duration of their playoffs.
“I think it was obviously not in the plan, to get injured, to go back to Indianapolis for treatment,” Hayward said after Saturday’s game. “I trust these guys with everything out there. Obviously I was a little lucky that Robin was already there at Indy, so I was lucky to be home and have great treatment, but that was not in the plan. Robyn could have a baby anytime, so I think it’s probably something I’ll be there and by the time I get back I might miss the birth if she comes in and rushes to the hospital. So we discussed it, we prayed about it, and I think it’s probably best if I stay here and help our team.
ESPN’s Rachel Nichols initially broke the news of Hayward’s decision to broadcast Game 3. Brad Stevens was surprised to learn that Hayward made his decision after the game.
“She didn’t tell me,” Stevens joked, referring to Nichols. “So if he wants to go back there for the birth of his child, that takes priority. It’s his decision and it’s, you know, I want to leave it at that. It’s his decision.
Gordon’s wife Robyn Hayward weighed in via Instagram.
“No, I’m not in labor,” she wrote. “When I want to tell everyone when this boy was born I will. Until then lol please stop talking about it. Gordon is not going to leave the bubble for childbirth so stop asking that also thanks.”
Hayward said his first comeback game was a challenge, especially from a conditioning standpoint.
“The first five minutes were definitely different,” said Hayward. “This is my first time playing 5v5 basketball, just with the way the rehab had to be done here, it’s so different, so I didn’t really have the opportunity to start, and I certainly don’t think 100%, but that’s kind of what it is, we’re in the Eastern Conference final. So I’m going to give us all I can. Continuing, I’m going to find my rhythm and get better and better, or at least that’s the plan.