Celtics

Gordon Hayward (back) felt his best all camp after latest practice

Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

Gordon Hayward's return to the NBA floor has understandably been a work in progress during the exhibition season. The versatile wing has had his surgically repaired ankle hold up well physically over the team's first couple weeks of camp, but it was a sore back that caused him to miss the team's fourth preseason game on Saturday and some additional practice work last week.

Hayward was back in action with the team over the last two days and is encouraged by how his body has bounced back from the ailment.

"My back's been ongoing a little bit, but definitely got progressively worse and that's what made me think I need to dial it back a little bit," Hayward said of his days off. "I think in the past, it's bothered me, but it's gone down with treatment and stuff.

But this time it was getting worse, especially after playing. So, like I said, I have to rebuild the strength. My leg is strong because I've been focusing on that. But then you forget that you don't focus on other things that are important and the back is definitely an important part. You can't do much when your back is hurting."

The rest paid dividends almost immediately for the 28-year-old, as Hayward was optimistic about how his body responded in the past couple days.