Detroit — It was one of those rare television moments where NBA fans were all gasping at the same moment on Tuesday night: Celtics guard Gordon Hayward fractured his tibia on national TV in a marquee matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Matched with social media, there was a tremendous outpouring of support for Hayward in the NBA community, with players sending their well-wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery. Initial indications are Hayward is likely to miss the regular season, but could possibly return by the playoffs.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy didn’t see it live, but when he did see it later on replay, his thoughts immediately went out to Hayward and the Celtics.
“I wasn’t watching it but my son called me in and told me about the injury and I went and watched it,” Van Gundy said. “You’re used to injuries but you don’t see too many of the ones that are just gruesome.
“We probably haven’t seen one like that in basketball since Paul George’s. It’s hard to watch; you can see the reaction on the players’ faces on both teams. That’s a tough one. We’re all used to injuries — players more than anybody — but nobody’s used to that stuff. That was hard to watch.”
Hayward’s move to Boston has a Detroit connection as well: when the Celtics looked to clear salary to fit Hayward under the cap, they traded Avery Bradley to the Pistons for Marcus Morris to get more flexibility.
Though Van Gundy and the Pistons don’t typically keep tabs on other team’s players, they were well aware of the horrific injury to Hayward.
“As much as we compete and go against each other, you never want to see anybody get hurt. It was tragic; it was tough to see last night,” Pistons guard Reggie Jackson said. “He’ll be in everybody’s prayers and we wish him a speedy recovery. It’s a tough loss for the Celtics and the NBA, in general.”
Dwight deserves it
As Dwight Howard starts to get up in years, many are starting to debate whether he’s accumulated Hall of Fame stats. Van Gundy, who coached him in Orlando, didn’t have those doubts.
“Dwight’s one of the best defensive centers we’ve had in this league in a long time. He can really score around the basket and get on the boards,” Van Gundy said.
Start ’em up
As anticipated, Van Gundy went with the starting lineup he anticipated using in the preseason. Minor injuries prevented them from playing together in the five exhibition games, but Wednesday, he saw Jackson, Bradley, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond together for the first time.