Celtics’ Gordon Hayward ‘sore’ but making strides

Gordon Hayward was left feeling “a little bit sore” but is making strides with every game he said after the Celtics handed the Bucks their first loss of the NBA season.

Hayward produced his best performance since returning from a gruesome ankle injury in the 2017-18 opener, scoring a season-high 18 points with four rebounds and five assists in a 117-113 victory Thursday.

The small forward landed three of a franchise-record 24 3-pointers for the Celtics. Kyrie Irving led the way with 28 points.

Hayward is still finding his feet after such a long absence, but believes he is gradually putting his injury nightmare behind him.

Gordon Hayward continued to make improvements while we downed the Bucks 117-113. pic.twitter.com/EG0IyyD5Av

“I can feel it [the ankle] right now,” Hayward said. “It’s definitely a little bit sore, something new that I haven’t done in a while.

“Those are things I just have to work through, maybe some scar tissue that I can grind out a little bit. It did feel a little bit sore, but I think it held up just fine.

“I have to get knocked down. I have to land on that one foot a little awkwardly, just so mentally I know I can do it, but also physically I can hold and be strong.”

He added: “It started off with a good start. Just out there competing, playing. … I’ve said it before, but game by game there’s different things [he’s getting better at]. I’m getting more and more comfortable.

“I had some open looks from 3 that were good and was able to knock them down, and tonight was good for me.”

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