BOSTON -- Finally, some good news on the injury front for the Celtics.
Aron Baynes, who suffered what coach Brad Stevens described as a Grade-2 ankle sprain on Wednesday, appears to be on a quicker-than-expected road to recovery. The injury which often sidelines folks for at least a month, won’t keep Baynes out that long.
In fact, Stevens told reporters on Friday there’s a chance that Baynes could be available as early as Sunday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.
The injury occured in the first half of Boston’s 118-115 loss to the Sixers, the latest chapter in what has been an injury-riddled season for Baynes.
An assortment of injuries have led to Baynes missing a career-high 29 games this season. And without Baynes, the Celtics are just 16-13 this season
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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.
In the interview, Ainge referred to the game as the moment that many realized that Jordan was "a really, really special player" even though everyone already knew that he was talented.
I think this was a coming out party, a little bit maybe like what Jayson Tatum had after the All-Star Game this year, this long stretch [of good play]. I think this 63-point game, 49 back-to-back games, was a coming out party for Michael as 'Wow, this guy is a really, really special player.' But we knew going in that he was extremely talented.
Ainge would certainly know. He was tasked with helping to guard Jordan late in the game, especially in the fourth quarter and overtime despite having five fouls. Ainge actually held up well doing that, but Jordan still beat him on occasion with his quickness to the hoop and insane scoring touch.
That said, it's also notable that Ainge is comparing Jordan's coming out party to that of Tatum. The third-year Celtic had emerged as a big-time scorer and one of the NBA's best all-around young players after the All-Star Game before the NBA shut down amid coronavirus concerns.
Certainly, Ainge isn't comparing Tatum to Jordan as a player. But the fact that he mentioned the duo in the same breath is still encouraging, and it should signify that Ainge continues to have confidence as the 22-year-old Tatum looks to continue to improve heading into the final year of his rookie contract in 2020-21.
To hear more from Ainge and Scal about the 1986 Celtics-Bulls series and Ainge's relationship with Michael Jordan, check out this week's episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, available on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network and YouTube.