Hayward came off the bench and tallied a team-high 20 points in Boston’s 110-106 win over the Pacers.
Gordon Hayward delivered in a big way for the Celtics on Sunday.
The 29-year-old forward came off the bench and tallied a team-high 20 points in Boston’s 110-106 win over the Pacers. He also added three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block as his team secured a sweep in Indiana.
“Close-out game. I really wanted to win,” Hayward told reporters after the game. “Just trying to be a competitor out there. Juices were flowing, for sure.”
Hayward was inconsistent for much of the regular season as he continued to recover from a devastating leg injury that cost him almost all of 2017-18. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said it was a long process to get Hayward back to full strength and in rhythm.
Hayward later praised Stevens and his staff for guiding Boston to the sweep.
“Just proud of us for finding ways to win,” Hayward said. “(Stevens) and the rest of the coaching staff did an unbelievable job of getting us ready each game, with the game plans. I think that’s something that sometimes people don’t look at.
“There are countless hours after the game, before the game, trying to figure out what they can do to help us out when we’re out there on the court. The staff did a tremendous job. Credit to them for everything they helped us do.”
The Pacers had a strong start to 2018-19 but struggled offensively after star guard Victor Oladipo suffered a season-ending leg injury in late January. Stevens said after Game 4 the Pacers “play so hard and so together.”
“You have to earn it every time (you play them),” Stevens said. “When you get into the playoffs, if you take your foot off the gas at any point in time, you’re in trouble. I appreciate the fact the way that our guys play, especially late in games. The way they executed all the way through.
Stevens said the team still has room to improve.
“We can still get a little bit better in the middle of the game,” Stevens said. “But, we’re happy to win the series. We thought it was going to be really tough coming in. Like I said all along, (the Pacers) are a physically tough team that I think plays basketball the right way and I appreciate them for that.”
The Celtics advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they’ll most likely face the top-seeded Bucks, who lead their series with the Pistons 3-0.