Gordon Hayward was under severe scrutiny at the start of the 2018-19 season, often taking the fall for the Boston Celtics' struggles early on.
As the season went on, Hayward slowly but surely looked like his old self, recovering from his season ending injury in his first year with the Celtics.
Toward the back end of this year he finally seemed to hit his stride, attacking the rim with aggression while really starting to trust his legs again. With that aggressive mindset, his offensive game has taken off and has even given him more confidence in his jump shot and playmaking ability.
With the opportunity to close out his first playoff series with the Celtics in his home state of Indiana, Hayward jumped on the opportunity.
He scored a team-high 20 points off the bench on an extremely efficient shooting day, going 7-for-9 from the field and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc to lead Boston to victory.
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When he was asked about the extra bounce he had in Game 4 he told the media, "[It was a] close-out game. I really wanted to win. Just trying to be a competitor out there. Juices were flowing, for sure."
Hayward brought it when his team needed it most, playing a key role in the team's 18-5 run late in the fourth quarter to close out the game. He extended the Celtics' lead with an and-1, attacking elite rim protector Myles Turner at the hoop.
.@gordonhayward is feeling it! pic.twitter.com/MT7GWrs8v8- Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 21, 2019
And on the very next possession, he buried a clutch 3-pointer that put the Pacers' comeback hopes out of reach, ultimately putting an end to their season.
"It's just the beginning for us," Hayward told the media to close out his post-game press conference.
The Celtics now await the outcome of the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons series. The Bucks have handled the Pistons with ease, taking a 3-0 lead and are one win away from sweeping their first round opponent just like Boston.
This would set up a rematch of last year's first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs where the Celtics defeated Milwaukee in seven games.