Celtics

Paul George on Gordon Hayward’s recovery: ‘He can’t be too hard on himself’

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Celtics' offense looked nearly unstoppable in Sunday's 134-129 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Eight of Boston's nine active players scored in double figures, while the team shot a season-best 59 percent from the field in the midst of a fourth straight win.

Yet, amid the impressive performance against one of the league's two best defenses, a familiar name found itself as the low man in the scoring column: Gordon Hayward.

The swingman finished with just two points on 1-of-6 shooting. While he had useful contributions in other facets of the game (three rebounds, two assists and a steal that led to a breakaway) the lackluster offensive output has become commonplace even as Hayward moves into the second half of the season.

It's evident, especially around the basket, that Hayward is still having trouble with his aggressiveness and confidence in the midst of his first full season of recovery following a pair of major surgeries on his ankle. One player who can relate to the experience that Hayward is battling through is Thunder All-Star Paul George, who was probably the best player on the floor on Sunday (37 points) in the midst of an MVP-level campaign for the small forward.

George suffered a career-altering leg injury during a Team USA scrimmage in the summer of 2014 that sidelined him for nearly the entire 2014-15 season. Five years later, George is playing the best of basketball of his career, but it's been a long battle for him to get there, something that he advises Hayward and Celtics fans to keep in mind while trying to judge his play.