Celtics

Aron Baynes (hand fracture) out indefinitely

Aron Baynes (hand fracture) out indefinitely

BOSTON — Boston Celtics big man Aron Baynes fractured the fourth metacarpal in his left hand in the first quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns and is out indefinitely.

Baynes could be seen flexing his hand in pain after hitting it on Suns rookie DeAndre Ayton just 90 seconds into Wednesday’s game. Baynes stayed on the floor but was grimacing after teammate Kyrie Irving slapped his left hand following a loud Baynes dunk.


Baynes talked to the training staff on the sideline, then slammed down a cup of water after trainer Art Horne directed him to the locker room. The team announced the hand fracture later in the first half.

“Aron’s got a broken hand,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "I don’t know any updates on timelines or anything like that, but clearly going to be out for some time.  And I saw the X-rays, so I can confirm that one — and even I could see the break. So who knows how long he’s going to be out but he’s disappointed. Obviously, he started off the game great and then it was too bad to lose him two minutes in.”

The Athletic reported that Baynes will undergo surgery and will miss a month of play. Past surgical repairs for metacarpal injuries have suggested a 4-6 week recovery, which would means Baynes would miss at least 17 games as Boston’s schedule intensifies into the new calendar year.

“Not a good sight for us knowing how much we need Baynes,” said rookie big man Robert Williams. "Just next man up mentality, always got to be ready.”

While Baynes averages only 14.8 minutes per game this season, his impact shouldn’t be overlooked. The Celtics own a net rating of plus-10.4 in Baynes’ 356 minutes of floor time this season, or the best mark among any player on the team with 300+ minutes. 

Boston’s net rating with Baynes is off the court slides to plus-5.3 during its 1,099 minutes without him. Boston’s defensive rating does spike 5.3 points per 100 possessions without Baynes, who provides a bruising backline presence when he’s on the court.

The Celtics are currently thin on big men as Al Horford (knee) and Guerschon Yabusele (ankle) work their way back. Horford has missed six straight games, and eight of the team’s last 12, while trying to strengthen a bothersome left knee but is expected back soon. Yabusele is still working through an ankle sprain and there is no timeline for his return.

The Celtics can fill Baynes’ minutes with some combination of second-year big man Daniel Theis and Williams. Advanced metrics reflect well on Theis in limited time and he owns one of the best net ratings (plus-17.3) in the NBA.

Williams has dazzled with his ability to block shots and throw down loud alley-oop dunks, earning him immediate fan-favorite status. But he’s still very raw and learning the right time to go for blocks and when to stay disciplined and try to help the team on the glass.

“That is just something I need to work on, defensively, when to go and when to stay with my man,” said Williams. "In due time I’ll learn.”

Williams deemed himself ready to help fill Baynes’ minutes.

"It’s terrible. Everybody needs Baynes,” said Williams. "Just have to step up with him out."

And is Williams ready for that potentially inflated role?

"Of course,” said Williams. “It’s my job.

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Karl-Anthony Towns dealing with wrist injury, will miss game vs. Celtics

Karl-Anthony Towns dealing with wrist injury, will miss game vs. Celtics

It doesn't look like the Boston Celtics will have to face Karl-Anthony Towns coming out of the All-Star break.

The Celtics are taking on the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Friday night, their first night back after eight days off. The Timberwolves will be without Towns for that contest as he deals with a left wrist injury.

Towns didn't practice on Wednesday as a result of the injury. And per The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski, Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said Towns would miss games with the injury.

While the team hasn't officially confirmed that he's out, Friday's game is the Wolves' first back from the All-Star break. So, if Towns is set to miss multiple games, as Saunders implied, he will be out Friday.

Towns has averaged 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.4 asissts, and 1.2 blocks per game for Minnesota this season. Despite his success, the Wolves have logged just a 16-37 record and have the second-worst record in the West, ahead of only the lowly Golden State Warriors. 

The Celtics will be happy not to face Towns. Over the course of eight career games against the C's, Towns is averaging 21.9 points and 14.8 rebounds per game. And though Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter have outperformed expectations this year, they may have had trouble guarding the talented big man.

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.

Joe Harris calls Jayson Tatum Team USA's 'best player' from 2019 FIBA World Cup

Joe Harris calls Jayson Tatum Team USA's 'best player' from 2019 FIBA World Cup

The Boston Celtics had a prominent presence on Team USA during the summer of 2019. The squad that competed for the FIBA World Cup title featured four members of the Celtics: Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart.

While the team lost early in the tournament and snapped a historically-long undefeated streak for Team USA via an exhibition loss to Australia, the group did have some nice moments. And it's worth noting that one Team USA player thought a Celtics player shined brightest of all during the tournament.

As Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Harris explained, he thought Tatum was the best of the bunch for the USA squad.

“I thought Jayson was probably the best player on our team this summer,” said Harris at NBA's All-Star weekend, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “Obviously there were a lot of talented guys there. Unfortunately he got hurt halfway through our trip, but he was leading us in a lot of different areas. It wasn’t this huge statistical thing, I think it was more the presence that he had. What I saw, what he brought every day to practice. It was one of those things where he is super young, but he didn’t act like it, he didn’t play like it, and I could’ve told you this summer that he’d have a pretty good chance to be here today as an All-Star.”

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Tatum only played in two games for Team USA after suffering a sprained ankle, but he did average 24.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. That closely mirrors the 22.4 points and 6.9 boards that he has averaged so far during the 2019-20 season, his first All-Star campaign. And Tatum only playing in the two wins, not the two losses, is notable as well.

But Harris' point about Tatum having a presence and playing beyond his years may be even more important. If he can continue to develop, keep that presence about him and emerge as a leader, there's no telling what his ceiling could be.

Tatum will look to continue his hot play of late following the All-Star break. And no matter what happens with the C's, it seems that Tatum is tracking toward becoming a star player at the NBA level.

And his peers, like Harris, are recognizing that.

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.