All indications from the Boston Celtics are that Gordon Hayward will eventually get back to being the player he was when they signed him to a maximum contract a year ago.

There have been no setbacks with the left leg and ankle that Hayward injured in gruesome fashion last opening night, and caused him to miss an entire season, since he was cleared for full contact practices one month ago. He has shown hints of being the All-Star player he grew into being with the Utah Jazz during three games of limited preseason action before he sat out Saturday’s exhibition finale at Cleveland with a sore back.

But watching Hayward trying assimilate into the Celtics’ system for nearly 60 preseason minutes illustrates that he is not there yet. Not even close, really. And that will present Coach Brad Stevens with a dilemma when the regular season begins next week.

When the games count, how much can you allow Hayward to play through the mistakes, and a year’s worth of rust and lost rhythm, and at what point does the coach have to go with a starting lineup and rotations that give the Celtics the absolute best chance to win on a given night?

“I think that, inevitably,” Stevens said Thursday, “when you are out for a year there is going to be a transition.”

That transition has been frustrating for the entire team through three straight lackluster efforts from the starters to end the preseason. But it has been especially tough on Hayward before the sore back flared up. In 59 minutes, 27 seconds of game action, he shot just 5 for 20, scored 21 points, and was a combined minus-38.

The biggest concern has come on the defensive end where the Celtics were already going to be at a disadvantage on most nights going small, and where Hayward picked up eight fouls in a little more than three halves of basketball.

“That’s a speed-of-the-game thing,” Hayward said after the home opener. “Everyone focuses on the offensive end. There are definitely defensive habits that I have to build back up.”

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