Pacers expecting confident Gordon Hayward in playoff series vs. Celtics

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Gordon Hayward showed signs of his former All-Star self over the last few weeks of the regular season for the Boston Celtics, and the Indiana Pacers are expecting an improved, confident C's forward when they play Game 1 of their first-round NBA playoff series at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon.

"... His stroke is back, he's making good decisions, and he looks like he's playing with a lot more confidence," Pacers coach Nate McMillan told reporters before the series opener.

Hayward himself seems to be very excited for Game 1 of the series, which will be his first ever playoff appearance for the C's. He posted this tweet a few hours before tip-off:

Hayward averaged 12.5 points and shot an impressive 60.6 percent from the field in four games against the Pacers during the regular season. He enters the playoffs after scoring 18.3 points per game and shooting 65 percent (40 percent from 3-point range) in four regular-season games this month.

The veteran forward likely will continue coming off the bench for Game 1, even though starting shooting guard Marcus Smart has been ruled out for the series with an oblique injury.

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