Celtics

Danny Ainge addresses Kyrie Irving's apparent jab at Celtics coaches

Danny Ainge addresses Kyrie Irving's apparent jab at Celtics coaches

Danny Ainge has defended Kyrie Irving's comments in the past, and he did so again Thursday — to a certain extent.

Irving appeared to call out Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics coaching staff Saturday night after a loss to the Hornets, suggesting his team should have trapped Kemba Walker instead of allowing the Charlotte star to "torch" the C's.

Ainge was asked about Irving's comments Thursday during his weekly interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich." 

"I did hear (Irving's comments). It's not that uncommon," the Celtics' president of basketball operations said. "Guys get frustrated, and maybe that was the first thing that came to his mind is, 'We should have done something different with Kemba.' "

But Ainge also stuck up for Stevens' game plan, as Irving and his teammates didn't exactly hold up their end of the bargain as Walker went off for a game-high 36 points.

"Kemba hit three (3-pointers) in transition. We didn't do a good job of stopping them in transition," Ainge said. "We had defended Kemba pretty well this year after the first game of the season and up through that game, so for two and a half games, we had done a good job with the defensive plan that we had."

Ainge conceded Walker took advantage of favorable matchups off switches in the fourth quarter that could have been prevented. He also reminded everyone that defense wasn't the primary issue in Boston's collapse.

"The bottom line is, we scored five points in the final eight minutes and 20 seconds," Ainge said. "That's not like our team at all. If we score 10 points (in that span), we win that game."

The good news: Boston moved on with a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night and face a big test Friday at home against the Indiana Pacers. So, Ainge is ready to let bygones be bygones.

"I don't think (Irving's comments have) anything to do with anything other than a player's frustration," Ainge said.

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Joel Embiid injury: 76ers star leaves game vs. Cavaliers with shoulder sprain

Joel Embiid injury: 76ers star leaves game vs. Cavaliers with shoulder sprain

The Philadelphia 76ers are in rough shape.

They already were lamenting Ben Simmons' back injury, which is expected to keep him out for at least two weeks. Things only got worse in Wednesday night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as Joel Embiid exited after seven minutes with a left shoulder sprain.

Embiid exited to the locker room, briefly returned to the Sixers' bench, then was officially ruled out for the rest of the game.


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It's currently unclear how much time Embiid could miss. But if he's out for an extended period, that's a significant setback for a 76ers team that's fifth in the Eastern Conference standings.

Embiid was coming off a sensational performance Monday night vs. the Atlanta Hawks in which he dropped 49 points and brought down 14 rebounds.

The 76ers fell to the Cavs, 108-94, which brings them to 36-23 on the season and a putrid 9-21 on the road.

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.

Kemba Walker injury: Celtics star (knee) ruled out vs. Jazz as road trip ends

Kemba Walker injury: Celtics star (knee) ruled out vs. Jazz as road trip ends

The Boston Celtics won't have Kemba Walker for Wednesday night's matchup against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.

The veteran point guard will miss his fourth straight game after the C's officially ruled him out Wednesday afternoon. Walker has been dealing with a sore left knee and has not played on the Celtics' road trip, which ends in Utah.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The 29-year-old star last played for the Celtics in their win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 13. He played three days later in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, including a long stint in the fourth quarter when the matchup got really competitive. Should Walker have played in the All-Star Game given the situation with his knee? No, probably not, but the team is taking the right approach by sitting him now and not letting the injury get worse. 

The Celtics will need Walker to be healthy and ready to go come playoff time. If he has to miss a few games in February and March for that to happen, so be it. Walker is averaging 21.8 points, five rebounds and 4.1 assists per game this season.

Second-year center Robert Williams (left hip bone edema) also has been ruled out for Wednesday night's game versus the Jazz.

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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Jazz, which begins Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.