Celtics

Aron Baynes feigns ignorance after hard hit vs Pacers in Game 1

Aron Baynes feigns ignorance after hard hit vs Pacers in Game 1

BOSTON — Boston Celtics big man Aron Baynes could be seen grimacing and shouting in obvious discomfort after trying to absorb a charge early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers. Baynes, however, dismissed any concern about his health following Boston’s 84-74 triumph.

The 6-foot-9 Baynes got whistled for a shooting foul after shuffling into the path of Indiana’s Tyreke Evans. Baynes absorbed a shoulder to the chest -- and might have caught a bit of Evans’ knee below the belt — before hitting the ground hard while hoping for a charge call. Instead, the whistle went against him, much to the dismay of the Boston bench watching nearby.

Baynes protested then, after being helped up, doubled over in pain repeatedly while trying to shuffle off the court. Eventually, he squatted and kept protesting the call to officials before gingerly departing the court.

On the bench, Baynes scrunched his face and let out a scream as team trainer Art Horne checked on him. Baynes had left ankle and foot injuries this season that caused some concern when he seemed to be flexing that leg in the aftermath of the collision.

Baynes, rather humorously, downplayed concern after the game when asked by reporters if he had been hurting in the fourth quarter.

"I looked like I was in pain?” Baynes replied.

Um, yeah.

"Looks can be deceiving. For sure, I must have been breathing harder than normal,” said Baynes.

It was then noted to Baynes that he sure appeared to be screaming on the Boston bench. Even Kyrie Irving looked concern sitting next to him.

"I might have been a little bit emotional. That's all,” said Baynes. "One of those things. It's all good. At the end of the day, our emotion runs a little bit high. I'm fine and ready to get back out there.”

Baynes subbed back in with 5:01 remaining in the game and played for nearly three minutes before subbing out with the game in hand. He finished with 2 points and 9 rebounds over 23 minutes. 

The Celtics posted an impossibly low defensive rating of 68 with Baynes on the court, according to the NBA’s box score data. Alas, their offensive rating was an equally terrible 68, offsetting all the strong defensive play while Baynes was on the floor.

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Why Pablo Torre believes ex-Celtic Al Horford is 'useless' on 76ers

Why Pablo Torre believes ex-Celtic Al Horford is 'useless' on 76ers

Al Horford joined the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency last summer to be a veteran presence alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on what looked like a legitimate contender.

But expectations haven't exactly met reality -- in part because Horford and Embiid have mixed like oil and water.

The former Boston Celtics big man has seen his shooting percentage drop from 53.5 percent in 2018-19 to 44.9 percent this season while both he and Embiid have discussed the growing pains they've had sharing the court together.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Wizards, which begins Thursday at 11 a.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at noon. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

ESPN's Pablo Torre joined NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh on "The Habershow" podcast and cut right to the chase about the Horford-Embiid dynamic.

"The whole, 'Let's break up Joel and Ben' eternal conversation ... we should be talking about breaking up Al and Joel," Torre told Haberstroh. That is the relationship that is irrevocably broken. That's the one that is a non-starter. That's the one that's doomed. We have all sorts of evidence now, but the eye test and statistical, to prove this. ... In no world does Joel Embiid and Al Horford as a pair make sense."

Horford fit well in Boston and thrived in Brad Stevens' system by doing a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor. But Torre believes the 34-year-old doesn't bring much of anything to Philly.

"I just hate watching Al Horford play basketball. I just hate it. It's infuriating," Torre said. " ... We've had four extra months to really contemplate how useless Al Horford is to the Sixers' ambitions. ... Part of it is because (head coach) Brett Brown and the Sixers took forever to admit that he should not be playing with Joel. ... It's just Groundhog Day. It's just endless. I don't hate anyone in the NBA. But I hate watching Al Horford play basketball."

That's a pretty harsh assessment of a five-time All-Star. But as the Sixers stumble into their first-round playoff series against the Celtics without star point guard Ben Simmons, Torre believes Horford's poor on-floor chemistry with Embiid will be exposed.

"When he was with the Hawks, with the Celtics, throughout his very long career, what he could do -- space the floor, facilitate defend -- all real skills," Torre said. "But they're utterly negated when Joel Embiid is the other guy."

Check out more of Haberstroh and Torre's conversation on "The Habershow" here.

How 76ers' Al Horford feels about seeing Celtics in first-round series

How 76ers' Al Horford feels about seeing Celtics in first-round series

Al Horford has been around long enough to know not speak ill of his opponents -- especially when he used to play for them.

Horford's 76ers are locked into a first-round NBA playoff matchup with the Boston Celtics, where he spent three seasons from 2016 to 2019 before signing with Philadelphia in free agency last summer.

So, how does the veteran big man feel about facing his old mates in his first playoff series with the Sixers?

"What are the odds?" Horford told ESPN's Rachel Nichols, adding he's glad the teams will meet in the neutral setting of the NBA bubble to spare him returning to a hostile TD Garden crowd.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Wizards, which begins Thursday at 11 a.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at noon. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics fans indeed won't have the chance to boo Horford this postseason, and he's not giving them reason to, anyway. Here's what Horford added to Nichols about the red-hot Celtics:

"In my eyes, they’re playing the best of all the teams in the bubble right now.”

The undefeated-in-the-bubble Phoenix Suns may disagree with Horford's assessment, but the C's are hitting their stride at the right time. They've won four games in a row -- three by double digits -- and routed the defending champion Toronto Raptors last Friday.

The Sixers, meanwhile, have lost three consecutive games since losing All-Star guard Ben Simmons to a season-ending knee injury and appear in danger of flaming out in the first round.

If Horford has any regrets about leaving Boston for Philly last offseason, though, he's certainly not letting on.

"For us, it’s a great opportunity," Horford told reporters Wednesday in a video conference, via The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn. "... It’s part of the business. Obviously, we’ve already played them plenty of times this year so that effect is out of the way, so now we can go out there and compete. It should be a fun series."