NEW YORK — The Celtics announced a timetable of “approximately six weeks” for Gordon Hayward’s return when he underwent surgery on Nov. 11 to repair a broken bone in his left hand.

Hayward believes he may be back around Christmas.

“I feel pretty good,” he said before the Celtics’ 112-107 loss to the Nets Friday. “I’m able to kind of lightly dribble right now and shoot. I’m trying to just build some strength back in the left hand a little bit. I think all this considered, I feel like I’m progressing really well, and we’ll see where it’s at.”

Hayward fractured the fourth metacarpal in his non-shooting hand in San Antonio Nov. 9.

“I feel like I’m ahead of schedule,” Hayward said. “I mean, it’s hard to say with these things exactly what the timeline is. But, like I said, I feel good, and most importantly I’ve been able to continue with my leg work and stuff like that, so that’s really important.

“It’s kind of hard to put an exact timetable on some of these things, because some of it is, once the bone has healed, how much pain can you handle and how does your hand respond to workouts or getting hit a little bit, different things like that.”


There are still hurdles to clear.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of things that I’m going to have to do – you know, playing contact-wise, making sure that I have some strength in that left hand – before I can put myself out there,” Hayward said. “And luckily we’ll have some practice days coming up that I can kind of work through it a little bit.”

Marcus Smart has some left-hand finger issues, as well. He’s been bothered by a sprain that caused him more discomfort as he went for 15 points on 4-for-13 shooting Friday.

“Just play through it and if it gets any worse, then obviously we’ll have to re-evaluate it and see what we’re going to do,” he said. “But right now it’s OK. Like I said, I can play through it.”

Tacko Fall is hoping he can be back soon from his right knee bone bruise.

“Maybe another week and it’ll be fine,” said Fall, who suffered the injury while playing for G-League Maine on his two-way contract. “Last game, closed out wrong, tried to change direction and just twisted my knee. Happened in the second quarter. I finished the game, but afterwards they did an MRI – a sprain, a couple bruises, they gave me a timetable. So (I) came here to the trainers to get some rehab.

“I knew it wasn’t too bad, but I knew it was something. They did the MRI to be sure. Now it’s a matter of rehabbing it and getting ready.”

HEAT: Dion Waiters returned to practice with Miami, apologizing publicly for the incident on the team plane that led to his 10-game suspension.

Waiters will be with the team for its three-game trip to Brooklyn, Toronto and Boston. He has yet to play this season and has been suspended for 11 of the first 18 Heat games – costing him about $920,000, pending appeals.

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