Celtics

Bradley Beal's historic game vs. Celtics didn't stop Jayson Tatum's trash talk

Bradley Beal's historic game vs. Celtics didn't stop Jayson Tatum's trash talk

BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum has been battling Bradley Beal since high school, so he knows all of the St. Louis native's tricks.

Beal used all of them Wednesday night.

The Wizards guard exploded for 44 points on 17-of-27 shooting in Washington's 140-133 loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. For context, Beal is just the sixth NBA player to score 44 points or more at the new Garden since it opened in 1995.

A few of Beal's buckets came against Tatum, a fellow St. Louis native who looked to Beal as a "big brother" growing up and now works out with the All-Star guard every summer.

But even as Beal lit up the Celtics, Tatum found a way to trash-talk his close friend and mentor by fixating on one of Beal's rare misses with Tatum guarding him in isolation.

"(He did a) between the legs, between the legs into a stepback -- I knew that s--- was coming -- and he missed it," Tatum recalled after the game. "So I told him, 'He don't really score on me 1-on-1. He's gotta use a screen.' "

Take your victories where you can get them, right?

Tatum isn't naive, though. When asked if his familiarity with Beal's game makes it easier to guard the two-time All-Star, Tatum responded:

"I mean, he still had 44. St. Louis guys can hoop. That's what it is."

Tatum didn't elevate to Beal's level Wednesday night but still did plenty of hooping, dropping 23 points on 9-of-20 shooting to put Monday's 1-for-18 performance in his rearview mirror.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Celtics Report Card: Power Ranking the C's roster by importance

Celtics Report Card: Power Ranking the C's roster by importance

Who's been the Celtics MVP so far this season? 

It's not exactly an easy question to answer. Last week, we asked you guys to pick. Given four options — Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Marcus Smart — voters were split.

Smart prevailed in the balloting with 28 percent of votes but no one earned less than 22 percent. It hammered home how Boston’s early season success has been a group effort from their core players. 

In lieu of a report card — and Inspired by last weeks’ voting — we attempted this week to try to power rank Celtics players based on their importance to the team’s success so far this season. Like the voters in our poll, we found that you could shuffle the top 5 in just about any order and make a case for your rankings.

Click here for this week's Celtics Report Card.>>>>>

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Kemba Walker 'ecstatic' about getting Gordon Hayward back in Celtics lineup

Kemba Walker 'ecstatic' about getting Gordon Hayward back in Celtics lineup

BOSTON — Count Kemba Walker among those excited to get Gordon Hayward back on the court.

"I'm excited. I'm ecstatic and happy for him,” said Walker. "He was playing really well before he got hurt and, of course, we need him. He is one of our best players. He's a starter for us and averaging 20 points. That's 20 points that we were missing. It will be great to get him back for sure.”

Hayward went through walkthrough Monday with the intention of playing Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to coach Brad Stevens. Hayward was conferencing with trainers after shootaround looking for the final thumbs up. 

Hayward has missed the past 13 games while rehabbing from a left-hand fracture suffered against the San Antonio Spurs in early November.

The Celtics, however, will not be at full strength on Monday even if Hayward plays. Robert Williams is out due to a sore left hip while Marcus Smart is doubtful due to an eye infection.

Walker doesn’t believe the Celtics will have any struggles reintegrating Hayward after his absence. Boston went 9-4 without him.

“Gordon is so smart and knows how to play the game, so easy to play with,” said Walker. "I don't think there will be any challenges. I think he's going to come in and do as well as he did before he got hurt.”

In other injury news, Stevens gave positive updates on Romeo Langford and Tacko Fall.

“[Langford] had a great workout this morning. Did a little bit of our shootaround so that was good, should be clear pretty soon,” Stevens said of the 14th overall pick, who has been sidelined by an ankle he sprained twice in Maine.

"Tacko is doing great,” said Stevens. "I’m guessing he’ll be cleared by the end of the week.”

Fall, a two-way big man, has been sidelined recently with a bruised knee. Once healthy, he’ll be able to rejoin the Maine Red Claws.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.