Celtics

Brad Stevens: Gordon Hayward (concussion), Aron Baynes (ankle) close to returning to action for Celtics

Brad Stevens: Gordon Hayward (concussion), Aron Baynes (ankle) close to returning to action for Celtics

The Boston Celtics remain undermanned for tonight’s game at Charlotte. 

But it appears as though the team’s depth will be replenished sooner than expected. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said both Aron Baynes (foot) and Gordon Hayward (concussion protocol) have not been ruled out for Sunday’s game against San Antonio. 

Prior to tonight’s game against Charlotte, Stevens said reports he has heard about both players are “really encouraging.”

Baynes was with the team, but flew back to Boston to meet with a foot specialist.

“He can play sooner than we thought which is encouraging,” said Stevens who was told Baynes had a Grade-2 sprain which typically takes close to a month to heal. 

Baynes suffered a left ankle sprain in the first half of Boston’s 118-115 loss at Philadelphia earlier this week. 

The 6-foot-10 big man has missed a total of 29 games this season with Boston posting a 16-13 record in his absence. 

Hayward is in the NBA’s concussion protocol program after taking a hard shoulder from Atlanta’s John Collins on March 16, with tonight’s game against the Hornets being the third straight Hayward will miss. 

As for Hayward’s return, Stevens said, “Gordon is right around the corner.”

Stevens added, “I would not rule either of them out (for Sunday against San Antonio) based on what I’ve heard.”

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Happy 31st birthday, Larry Bird vs. Dominique Wilkins Game 7 duel

Happy 31st birthday, Larry Bird vs. Dominique Wilkins Game 7 duel

Thirty-one years ago today, the old Boston Garden was the site of one of the great superstar duels the NBA has ever seen.

Larry Bird vs. Dominque Wilkins. Celtics vs. Hawks. Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 7.

On a Sunday afternoon, in the first of a Garden playoff doubleheader (the Bruins and Edmonton Oilers would play Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final later that night), the two Hall of Famers staged a one-on-one battle to remember.

Bird and the Celtics came out on top, 118-116. Wilkins finished with 47 points - 12 in the fourth quarter - on 19-for-33 shooting. Bird had 20 of his 34 points in the fourth and was 15-for-24 for the game. And, in an ode to how different a game the NBA was then - each player only hit one 3-pointer. 

Tommy Heinsohn was the CBS analyst for the game with Brent Musburger doing the play-by-play. Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers was in Atlanta's backcourt. Heinsohn and Rivers looked back at the game with the voice of the Celtics.

Heinsohn: "Once it started to happen, you just saw the desire of both these players." 

Rivers: "The crowd here was amazing. I gotta tell you, I fell in love with the Celtic crowd in this game."

The Celtics would go on to lose to the Detroit Pistons in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, but this game provided a lasting memory from that postseason.

Perhaps Musburger put it best after another late Bird drive and finish: "You are watching what greatness is all about."

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Marcus Smart 'honored' by All-Defensive selection, but has one goal in mind

marcus_smart.jpg
File photo

Marcus Smart 'honored' by All-Defensive selection, but has one goal in mind

Marcus Smart finally was rewarded for his tenacious defensive effort on Wednesday, but the scrappy Celtics guard still isn't satisfied.

For the first time in his career, Smart made the NBA All-Defensive list and did so as a first-team selection. The 24-year-old topped all other guards with 63 votes.

Although the longest tenured Celtic is thrilled with the recognition, raising banner No. 18 at TD Garden remains the first thing on his mind.

That reaction sums up everything you need to know about Smart, who's been a team-first player since being drafted by Boston in 2014.

While it's the first time Smart has received All-Defensive honors, it likely won't be his last. He'll undoubtedly put himself in a position to be selected many more times as he attempts to will the C's to a title.

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