Irving & Horford impressed by improving Hayward

Kyrie Irving and Al Horford each had praise for Gordon Hayward after he impressed with 25 points in the Boston Celtics' 112-102 win over the Miami Heat.

Hayward, Irving and Horford each had at least 20 points as the Celtics made it four wins from their last five, giving them momentum as the playoffs approach.

An All-Star with the Utah Jazz in 2017, Hayward has yet to reach such heights with the Celtics after suffering a horrific broken leg and dislocated ankle in his debut for them last season.

However, he had a season-high 13 free-throw attempts on Wednesday and is shooting at 51.9 per cent from the field since the All-Star break.

"He's just trying things now and doing it with more confidence, and getting into the lane and getting fouled," Irving said. "He's really understanding his size again, where he's 6ft 9in, able to post guys up, able to come off screen-and-rolls and make great decisions.

"We're best when he's looking for his shot. He's a great facilitator. But we need G to score.

"I told him that, and I'm going to keep telling him to stay aggressive and be him and really be that 20-point scorer that he was."

Horford added: "It is encouraging to see Gordon have such a good game, to really take over. Obviously Kyrie has been our rock all year. It is good, it is good to see all that come together, especially this time of year getting ready for the playoffs.

"I just think that not only is [Hayward] starting to understand what he wants to do and he's feeling good, but also us.

"We're starting to understand how to play with Gordon a little more. When the ball is in his hands, usually good things happen, and we just need him to continue to play with that confidence."

Of the Celtics' recent form, Horford said: "It does feel different.

"I just think that this time of the year and everything that's at stake, and the playoffs nearing, I think our group is playing with much better focus. That's encouraging."

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