Celtics

Charles Barkley named this Celtics legend as best player he had to guard in NBA

Charles Barkley named this Celtics legend as best player he had to guard in NBA

Charles Barkley played in the golden era of the NBA.

His career began in the 1984-85 season at the height of the Larry Bird/Magic Johnson rivalry, and it ended after the 1999-00 campaign -- two seasons following Michael Jordan's second retirement from the Chicago Bulls after winning six championships in the 1990s.

Barkley played against many of the most talented players the sport has ever seen, but when asked about the best player he ever had to guard, one Boston Celtics legend stood above the rest. The "Round Mound of Rebound" recently revealed, via Joseph Sears of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal, that Kevin McHale was the best player he ever played against.

"He's one of the greatest basketball players ever, and I actually work with him now on television," Barkley said during remarks at Tuesday's 32nd annual Stake and Burger event benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rutherford County, Tennessee. "He's the best player I ever played against and had to guard."

This isn't the first time Barkley has praised McHale's game, and it probably won't be the last. 

McHale is the best low-post scorer in league history. He had a devastating repertoire of effective moves that consistently made opponents look silly. McHale and Barkley both played power forward, so they were matched up quite a bit, particularly during the legendary battles between the Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers during the 1980s. 

Barkley's and McHale's skill sets are not at the forefront of today's NBA. Low-post scoring has taken a backseat to the 3-point shot, and there's little (if any) evidence to suggest this trend will reverse anytime soon. One thing we know for sure is these two Hall of Fame players would've been successful in any era because their physical talents were so unique. 

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Celtics remain cautious with timetable for Kemba Walker's return

Celtics remain cautious with timetable for Kemba Walker's return

BOSTON -- Kemba Watch will continue for at least one more game with the four-time All-Star ruled out for the fifth consecutive game because of left knee soreness when the Celtics host the Houston Rockets on Saturday night. 

For years, Walker has been one of the most durable players in the NBA.

So to see him sidelined for multiple games is a bit jarring. 

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And while Celtics coach Brad Stevens offered a scenario that could have Walker back on the floor next week in Cleveland on Tuesday, the need for Boston to proceed cautiously when it comes to Walker’s health and return can not be overstated. 

The last thing the Celtics want or need is Walker hobbling into the playoffs at less than full strength; or even worse, unable to play, akin to what happened with Kevin Garnett in 2009 when he missed the final 25 games of the regular season and all of the playoffs, which ended for the Celtics with a second-round loss to Orlando. 

Being out with injury for an extended period of time is foreign terrain for Walker, who in his nine NBA seasons has had only one where he missed as many games as this season. 

That was in 2014-15 when he missed 20 games and had surgery to repair a torn meniscus to his left knee — the same knee that has him out now. 

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The Celtics have run a battery of tests of the injury to try and make sure that when he does return, this won’t be something that lingers.

Boston has played well without Walker (9-3), but don’t get it twisted. 

The Celtics know for them to have the kind of playoff run that they are hoping, Walker has to be at or close to full strength. 

For Walker, being part of a team that’s built beyond just his play, to fight for a second or third seed in the East and not just a spot in the playoffs, makes missing games a little easier to handle.

“I still don’t like it; no competitor would like missing games,” Walker told NBC Sports Boston. “I want to be out there with my brothers. But it’s good to know that if I can’t go, they can still play well, they can still win games.”

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Celtics' Robert Williams cleared to return; Kemba Walker won't play vs. Rockets

Celtics' Robert Williams cleared to return; Kemba Walker won't play vs. Rockets

The Boston Celtics' frontcourt depth is about to improve.

Second-year center Robert Williams finally has been cleared to play, C's coach Brad Stevens told reporters Friday. Stevens noted Williams' minutes will be "very limited" to start.

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Williams has not played since Dec. 6 because of a left hip injury. His return to the lineup, which could come as soon as Saturday night versus the Houston Rockets at TD Garden, should give the Celtics valuable interior defense, another player to throw in pick-and-rolls, and additional rebounding. Williams also is the team's most athletic big man.

One player who won't return to game action Saturday is point guard Kemba Walker.

Walker was ruled out late Friday afternoon. He hasn't played since the 2020 NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 16. He's missed four consecutive games with left knee soreness. Marcus Smart has started in his place. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Rockets-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.