Horford and Baynes spearhead Celtics' league-leading defensive effort


Horford and Baynes spearhead Celtics' league-leading defensive effort

BOSTON -- The Celtics -- on a five-game winning streak after losing their first two -- are riding high these days, stringing together the kind of run that stands out for all the right reasons.

But tonight’s game against Sacramento presents a different kind of challenge.

The Celtics are doing more than just facing another competitor tonight. They must also contend with complacency -- something they haven’t had to worry about this season due to the quality of their opponents.


The Kings (1-6) are playing some of the worst basketball in the NBA right now, as evidenced by their record. Scoring, points allowed, field-goal percentage . . . you name it, and there’s a good chance the Kings rank among the league’s bottom 10 in it.

And as much as Boston has shown a knack for playing well against all opponents, nobody they've faced so far has struggled like Sacramento. They Celtics will say they respect all opponents, but they're no different than most elite teams in the struggle to treat terrible teams and tremendously talented ones with the same edge.

Because as bad as the Kings’ record may be, they still have enough quality players to knock off the Celtics if Boston isn’t careful. Willie Cauley-Stein and De'Aaron Fox are both solid young players with clear upside, though they’re still going through the lumps most youngsters endure in the early stages of their careers. Veterans like George Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter may all be past their prime -- and certainly haven't done much this year -- but, on paper, they're solid contributors.

So for Boston to survive this trap game, it must remain mindful of what's been the foundation of the winning streak: Defense.

The Celtics come into tonight’s game with a league-best defensive rating of 95.6. It's been a collective team effort, but the two pillars of their defensive success have been Al Horford and Aron Baynes.

They have been a dynamic defensive duo for the Celtics. They've paired up for a defensive rating of 77.9, which is the second-best mark among tandems to play in at least seven games this season according to nba.com/stats.

Besides having tremendous length across the board defensively, coach Brad Stevens also attributes Boston’s quicker-than-expected defensive success to the Horford-Baynes pairing.

“Our communication with Al and Aron is excellent,” Stevens said. “You know, if you go through something and walk through one time with Al and Aron, they can direct the whole thing. So that’s pretty . . . pretty unique, I think.”

Said Horford: “We’re just really buying into what Coach wants us to do and our young guys, they’re all ears. They’re really listening, trying to be better. We’re just trying to get better game by game.”


Report: NBA to launch 16-team 2K tournament

Report: NBA to launch 16-team 2K tournament

It looks like Esports' time to shine is finally here.

With all the major sports leagues on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA has come up with a creative solution to create some new basketball-based programming.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the league will be hosting a players-only NBA 2K tournament beginning Friday that will air on a major network. Haynes is reporting that the tournament will feature 16 NBA players and will take place over the course of 10 days.

This is a good way for the league to create some new basketball-related excitement with the season currently suspended. It will certainly be fun to see how players who are so good on the basketball court can fare in the realm of basketball video games.

It's unclear if a member of the Boston Celtics will be involved in the tournament, but it certainly is possible. The ideal Celtic to be featured would be Gordon Hayward, as he's an avid gamer and would almost certainly be able to lead the 2K Celtics to some victories.

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If Hayward isn't the choice, Grant Williams would be another logical option. He disclosed to NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely that he loves playing video games on an episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast shortly after he was drafted.

No matter what, it will be entertaining to watch NBA players square off against each other again, even if no Celtics are involved in the 2K tournament.

Speaking of 2K action, be sure to check out our latest Celtics simulation. The 2K-C's took on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night as they looked to keep their winning streak alive.

How well does 21-year-old Jayson Tatum compare to 21-year-old Michael Jordan?

How well does 21-year-old Jayson Tatum compare to 21-year-old Michael Jordan?

We know that Jayson Tatum is on the path to NBA stardom. But is he on a similar pace to one of the greatest players ever to play the game, Michael Jordan?

You be the judge.

Boston Sports Info (@BostonSportsInf) checked out the statistical comparison between Jayson Tatum and Michael Jordan during their 21-year-old seasons. And when looking at the numbers on a per 36-minute basis, they were relatively close in most major categories.

In addition to the numbers pictured, Tatum averaged 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.9 blocks per 36 as a 21-year-old. Meanwhile, Jordan got 5.5 assists, 2.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks per 36.

So, Jordan edged Tatum in most categories, save for Tatum's rebounding advantage and his ever-so-slight blocks advantage. Of course, it's worth noting that Jordan entered the league as a 21-year-old rookie, so he had no NBA experience while he put up these excellent numbers. Tatum had 143 games of regular-season experience and 19 games of playoff experience before his 21st birthday.

Regardless, the point is that Tatum is still developing very well and the fact that his numbers can even be comparable to one of the NBA's all-time greats is an excellent sign. He should continue to progress and should soon be one of the top players in the NBA if he continues on his current trajectory.

Tatum may not reach Jordan level. Few ever do. But the stats indicate that he's on the right track very early on in his career.

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