Celtics

Marcus Smart gives positive review of Celtics star Kemba Walker's defense

Marcus Smart gives positive review of Celtics star Kemba Walker's defense

One of the first things you'll notice about Kemba Walker is he's an excellent scorer.

The new Boston Celtics point guard can drive to the basket and finish at the rim, he shoots well from 3-point range and he can create his own shot off the dribble. Walker averaged a career-high 25.6 points per game for the Charlotte Hornets last season and was named to the All-NBA third team. 

Scoring isn't Walker's only talent, though. He's not a bad defender, either, and his Celtics (and Team USA) teammate Marcus Smart recently gave a positive review of the UConn product's defensive abilities in an interview with NBA.com's Sekou Smith.

“For me, I’ve noticed that Kemba can really play defense when he wants to do it,” Smart said and then laughed. “You know it’s tough, when you see how much energy he had to exert on the offensive end [in Charlotte], but he’s actually a really good defensive player, especially at his size. You find out that the little guys are usually more feisty and tenacious. But he can play defense and you didn’t really see that or notice that because he had so much of a load on him offensively that it was probably harder for him to do that.”

Smart certainly knows what good defense looks like. He's one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and was a first team All-Defense selection last season.

Walker and Smart should be on the floor quite a bit together late in games for the Celtics this season, so the opportunity to learn each other's tendencies this summer playing for USA Basketball should accelerate their chemistry building when C's training camp begins.

The Celtics have been a strong defensive team for most of Brad Stevens' tenure as head coach, so if Walker can help maintain that success, Boston should again be among the most well-rounded teams in the league next season.

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Al Horford out for Celtics-Sixers reunion game due to injury: 'Definitely disappointed'

Al Horford out for Celtics-Sixers reunion game due to injury: 'Definitely disappointed'

BOSTON -- Celtics fans won't be able to boo or cheer Al Horford when the Philadelphia 76ers' starting lineup is announced Thursday.

Horford won't play Thursday against the Celtics due to left knee soreness and left hamstring tightness, the Sixers forward told reporters at TD Garden before the game.

Horford, who got injured during Philly's win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, will be on Philly's bench but won't suit up in his first trip to Boston since leaving the team in free agency over the summer.

The 33-year-old admitted he’s not too happy about the timing of his injury.

"Obviously I played here, but always during the years coming to play in the Garden, that's a big deal," Horford said.

"It's a special place to play at and I'm definitely disappointed that I won't be able to play tonight."

Some expected Horford to re-sign with Boston this past offseason before the veteran big man signed a four-year, $97 million contract with the rival Sixers.

But Horford still is very welcome at his former home.

"I've got no hard feelings," Horford said. "It's all love."

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers, which tips off Thursday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters active for the Celtics vs. 76ers, both reportedly unlikely to play

Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters active for the Celtics vs. 76ers, both reportedly unlikely to play

The Boston Celtics are going to have two of their G League stars available to play against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.

According to multiple reports, including NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin, 7-foot-5 center Tacko Fall and 5-foot-10 guard Tremont Waters are both expected to be active for the Celtics tonight.

Fall and Waters have starred at the G League level to start the season. Waters won the G League Player of the Month award in November and so far this season, he is averaging 20.2 points, 8.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game for the Red Claws.

As for Fall, he has been excellent as well and has provided the team with an anchor down low on both sides of the floor. He has averaged 15 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in six games, but he has missed time recently due to a knee injury.

Fall and Waters will replace fellow rookies Romeo Langford and Carsen Edwards on the bench. The two were sent down to the Red Claws to make room for Fall and Waters as depth.

That said, though Fall and Waters are listed as active, neither is likely to play in the contest, per Brian Robb of the Boston Sports Journal.

This isn't a major surprise, but it's still possible they could see time if the game ends up being a blowout or if the team gets in foul trouble at either guard or center.

Waters would likely find himself behind Brad Wanamaker and Javonte Green on the bench at guard while Fall will be the team's fourth big overall behind Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, and Grant Williams.

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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers, which tips off Thursday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.