Celtics

Despite swelling, injection, Kemba Walker's knee not expected to keep him out of Celtics' lineup long-term

Despite swelling, injection, Kemba Walker's knee not expected to keep him out of Celtics' lineup long-term

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Boston Celtics have been short-handed all season because of injuries, so why would Friday night against Minnesota - the first game after the All-Star break - be any different?

Kemba Walker was ruled out Thursday because of left knee soreness that led to his knee swelling up and having to be drained. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens added that Walker also was injected with Synvisc, a pain relief treatment used for knee soreness. 

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"That put him back for a couple of days," Stevens said. "We'll see how it goes from here. He's been dealing with knee soreness all year. He'll be out at least tonight and we will have a better game plan after that."

More than anything, the injury likely means the Celtics will be even tighter in their monitoring of Walker's minutes, which are significantly lower than they were in his first eight NBA seasons with the Charlotte Hornets (34.1) before this first season with Boston (32.2).

Walker, who will miss his ninth game this season with the knee issue and an early-season concussion, played 29 minutes Sunday in the All-Star Game in Chicago, finishing with 23 points for Team Giannis, which lost 157-155 to Team LeBron.

After the game, Walker acknowledged that he was on a minutes restriction for the game but wound up exceeding that due to the game's down-to-the-wire finish and his play in helping lead Team Giannis' comeback.

Stevens said that the difference with Walker's knee when he came back from the break was the amount of swelling.

"That was an indicator we needed to check it, " said Stevens who added that additional tests were performed and the knee remains structurally sound. "But he's going to be managing and dealing with it, as he has all year. It's unfortunate but it doesn't sound as if it's long-term or anything like that."

The Celtics' trip continues with games Sunday afternoon against the Lakers in Los Angeles and a back-to-back in Portland and Utah on Tuesday and Wednesday night. 


 

How well does 21-year-old Jayson Tatum compare to 21-year-old Michael Jordan?

How well does 21-year-old Jayson Tatum compare to 21-year-old Michael Jordan?

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.

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Celtics Talk Podcast: Danny Ainge on why 63-point game was Michael Jordan's coming out party

Celtics Talk Podcast: Danny Ainge on why 63-point game was Michael Jordan's coming out party

Everybody knew that Michael Jordan was an excellent NBA player very early on in his career.

But was his 63-point game against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 1986 NBA Playoffs his coming out party? Current Celtics GM Danny Ainge seems to think so.

On the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, Ainge discussed Jordan's 63-point playoff outburst from that series with Brian Scalabrine.

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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.