San Antonio Spurs

Report: Horford one of last All-Stars picked in draft

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Report: Horford one of last All-Stars picked in draft

Celtics forward Al Horford and San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge were the final two picks of the NBA All-Star draft, according to a report from ESPN.com's Chris Haynes.

In a change from the traditional East-vs.-West format, last month, the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James and the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, the top two All-Star vote-getters, each drafted a team from the 22 other players chosen to play in this year's game, which is Sunday in Los Angeles.

Aldridge was selected last to the team captained by James, while Curry took Horford with the final pick for his team. The order of selection was not officially made public by the NBA, but Haynes reported that Curry acknowledged Friday that he took the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo with his first pick. 

Horford has averaged 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in the first 54 games of the season, Aldridge 22.8 points and 8.4 rebounds.


 

Baynes probable for Sunday vs. Pistons

Baynes probable for Sunday vs. Pistons

Aron Baynes was unable to finish the Celtics' 105-102 loss at San Antonio on Friday night after taking a hard knee to the stomach.

However, team officials say the 6-foot-10 Baynes is probable for Sunday’s game at Detroit.

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His availability will be a huge factor for Boston (22-5) as they try to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since they opened the season with back-to-back defeats at Cleveland and in the home opener against Milwaukee.

If Baynes is available to play, he will likely begin the game as the starting center, where he would be matched up against his former Pistons teammate, Andre Drummond.

When the two played on Nov. 27, Detroit came away with a 118-108 win.

Baynes is often inserted in the starting lineup to help better match up against teams with dominant centers such as Drummond. But against the Pistons, the Celtics opted to instead start Marcus Morris who had 13 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes.

Meanwhile, Baynes had six points and six rebounds off the bench in 12 minutes, 41 seconds.

And Drummond?

He beat up the Celtics all game, finishing with 26 points on 10-for-12 shooting (lots of lay-ups and dunks, of course) along with 22 rebounds – the most any player has had against Boston this season.

More Baynes against Drummond makes a lot of sense, not only because they have comparable size but also due to Baynes having proven himself to be one of the best defenders – not just among big men, but among all players – this season.

Baynes has a defensive rating of 91.5 which leads the NBA.

“That’s the game now,” Baynes recently told NBC Sports Boston. “You have to be able to guard different guys now. That’s what I try to do, stay in front of them, make them take tough shots. At the end of the day, taking pull-up two's and contesting it, that’s the best thing statistically for our defense.”

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Celtics gotta be sharper to beat the Spurs

Celtics gotta be sharper to beat the Spurs

BOSTON – On to the next one.

Win or lose, this has been the unspoken approach taken by the Celtics following games.

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And while some losses certainly linger longer than most, the 105-102 loss on Friday night to the San Antonio Spurs won’t be one of them.

For starters, Boston hasn’t won on the Spurs’ home floor since 2011. And while Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili's best years are indeed behind them, both played important roles on Friday night after neither played in Boston’s 108-94 win over San Antonio on Oct. 30.

Parker had 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting with five rebounds and four assists while Ginobili had 11 points which included the game-winning basket with five seconds to play.

The Celtics did not play one of their better games but did enough good things that would have been enough to beat most teams in the NBA.

The loss says more about how resilient and connected the Spurs are as a team and organization than it does about any specific shortcoming of the Celtics (22-5), who despite the loss, still maintain the best record in the Eastern Conference.

“You have to play so well for all 48 [minutes],” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “We just had too many empty possessions. And they found multiple times throughout the game where they were in a rhythm of scoring and we just couldn’t break it. It was the difference in the game.”

Here are five other takeaways from the loss in San Antonio:

DEFENSIVE SLIPPAGE CONTINUES
We saw two of the league’s top teams defensively go at it, but the Spurs’ were slightly better. They had a defensive rating for the game of 109.1 while the Celtics were at 115.9. That said, Boston still maintains the league’s best defense with a NBA-leading defensive rating of 99.4 (the only team with a defensive rating below 100.0) while the Spurs come in at No. 4 with a defensive rating of 100.8.

FREE THROWS
In the first quarter, the Celtics were whistled for six personal fouls with the only foul called against the Spurs wasn’t even against a player – it was a technical foul on coach Gregg Popovich, whose complaining about his players being roughed up by the Celtics found a receptive audience in the officials. The Spurs played a better game than the Celtics on many levels, without question. But it certainly didn’t hurt that San Antonio was whistled for 14 fouls compared to 22 against the Celtics. And those foul calls resulted in the Spurs making more free throws (21) than the Celtics attempted (17).

LATE-GAME IMBALANCE
While there’s absolutely no reason to get in a panic, it’s worth noting how different the scoring in the fourth varied for the two teams. Boston, which has relied heavily on Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum to carry the offensive burden, were a combined 5-for-9 shooting in the fourth while the rest of the team shot just 2-for-9. The Spurs made eight baskets in the fourth with six different players, which speaks to the balance they displayed offensively that on this night at least, was good enough for the win.

THE MARCUSES
When it comes to good play from the Celtics bench, they need at least one of the two Marcuses (Morris and Smart) to play well. Against the Spurs, both players failed to make the kind of impact Boston needs at either end of the floor. Morris had five points on 2-for-9 shooting and was among the handful of Celtics who had no answer for how to slow down LaMarcus Aldridge (27 points, 10 rebounds). And Smart, who hasn’t shot the ball particularly well all season, was 2-for-6 from the field which was actually an improvement on his overall shooting numbers this season. Still, he never seemed to get into any kind of flow defensively and his usual crisp playmaking wasn’t evident as well with him tallying more turnovers (three) than assists (two). Smart came into the game averaging 5.4 assists, tops among all backups in the NBA this season.

REBOUNDING CONCERNS
The Celtics continue trending in the wrong direction when it comes to rebounding. Despite being ranked ninth in the NBA in rebounding percentage (.515), the Celtics are in the bottom 10 in their past nine games (they’re 6-3 after having won their previous 16 games)in rebounding percentage (.480, 22nd in the league). On Friday, the Celtics’ rebounding percentage was just .459.