Five minutes and fifteen seconds. That was how long it took until Kevin Harlan said the words, “Hayward broke his leg. Hayward has broken his leg.” He, like the rest of us, was shocked.

The arena fell dead silent, the Cav’s bench ran with fear, and everyone who had been surrounding Hayward turned away clutching their stomachs. No image paints a better picture:

His injury sucked.

There is no other way to put it. Outside of perhaps Kevin Ware or Paul George I can not remember a time where an arena was so silent and the player’s on the court were so visibly distraught.

Just look at this video (it does not contain any images of his ankle) and it tells all one needs to know:

Anyway you cut it, this was a brutal, devastating injury.

Kyrie shed tears, the arena was silent, the players were sick, and it felt like all hope for the Celtics season was gone. For as bad as it seemed then and continues to be now, it’s not.

The initial diagnosis is a fractured tibia and a dislocated ankle. Some reports indicate it may have been a clean break.

It’s too early to predict how long Hayward’s recovery could take. Early word suggests no blood vessel or ligament damage, a la “clean break,” which would be good but ultimately it may not make much of a difference. Don’t expect to see Hayward back this season.

Hawyard is 27 years old, just signed a max deal for 4 years, and he remains integral to the Celtics future. His personal health and well being is more important than the 2017-2018 Celtic’s season. The precedent is on him returning to the superstar form he was at and playing out his prime versus rushing him back this year and risking re-injury.

That is why when the initial shock of the injury clears, it is not time to panic.

The Celtics will be title contenders again. It would be amazing to see them take down LeBron and get their shot at the mighty Warriors, but was that really going to happen this quickly?

They have 11 new faces. They’re starting a rookie and a second year player in Jaylen Brown who did not get a ton of minutes last season. This was going to be a process.

The Hayward injury hurts because they lose a season to build the chemistry that they badly need. However, he is going to be back eventually, and when he comes back we know he and Coach Stevens will work as hard as possible to integrate him quickly.

This was supposed to be the bridge year. Give Brown and Tatum their run and let them get acclimated. That can still happen. Let Smart and Rozier develop further, that can happen too.

Let Horford, Irving, and Hayward develop their chemistry. Two-thirds of that trio can still do that. By the time Hayward is ready to return everyone should have each other’s strengths figured out for the most part.

It is a matter of fitting in one player instead of 11. That should not be a problem for Stevens, especially already knowing Hayward how he does.

This team is not dead. The fact that they came back from down 18 points last night and almost won the game was incredible.

Some people have been questioning their heart and their edge after losing Bradley, Crowder, and Thomas. Well, they proved the heart they still have last night.

Horford got a technical foul and I was pleased. That type of intensity was not shown until the post season last year. The fact that he showed it in Game 1 after watching his teammate go down means he’s ready to lead. Vocally, and not just with his play.

Let’s not expect 25 points from Jaylen Brown every night, but man did he step up. The energy he came out with in the third quarter lifted the spirits of the entire team.

Clearly, he was upset after the injury as was everyone else, but Brown recognized a game needed to be played still and he brought it. He and Tatum can suffice just fine.

This season is about building for the future and not securing a title this year. We all wanted to see James fall, to see our new big three in action, and to return to Title glory. That can all still happen, it’s just on hold.

This is not the way any one wanted the season to start. Whether you’re a Celtics fan or not, seeing a player of Hayward’s caliber go down is just sad and unfortunate.

However, he will be back, the chemistry will come, and the Celtics will make their run soon. For now, patience is in order. Here’s to Hayward making a full recovery and coming back even better than before.

NO COMMENTS