Celtics

Aron Baynes and Celtics are perfect basketball marriage

Aron Baynes and Celtics are perfect basketball marriage

BOSTON -- That smile.

No matter how many bodies Aron Baynes tosses around, he seems to always have a jovial demeanor about himself.

But underneath that happy-go-lucky demeanor is a physical, bruising, ass-kicker around the basket who has brought a level of physical play to the Boston Celtics that we haven’t seen around here in years.

Kudos to Jayson Tatum who has played well enough to where talk of him being the league’s rookie of the year isn’t foolishness viewed from green-tinted goggles. Kyrie Irving is looking more and more comfortable as the face of this franchise, and the fourth quarter closer that the Celtics need him to be on most nights.

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And then there’s Baynes who has shown himself capable of significantly impacting the game as a starter or coming off the bench.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had Baynes start the opener, and later had him coming off the bench against Milwaukee on Thursday night.

Stevens is conscious of trying to make sure his players know in advance why he’s making a certain lineup change, but didn’t feel the need to talk to Baynes about it.

And the reason?

Because when it comes to starting or coming off the bench, there are those who say they are cool with it and then there’s Baynes who in fact, is actually cool with it.

“The other night when I didn’t start him, I didn’t think twice about how he felt about that,” Stevens said. “Because I know he just cares about winning.”

And having a role where his strengths, defense and rebounding, have value to a team.

He came to Boston from Detroit where the Pistons, for the most part, struggled to win games, and Baynes’ strengths weren’t fully utilized in large part because of their center, Andre Drummond. There was very little flow or continuity when the two played together. And Baynes being Drummond’s backup didn’t really work out, either.

So, he comes to Boston which is void of a true center besides himself.

They need a physical banger to help fill the void that exists with every single big man gone from a season ago with the exception of Al Horford.

It is what we call a basketball marriage made in heaven.

“Baynes was one of the best in the NBA with defending the rim without blocking a ton of shots,” Stevens said. “The whole verticality deal, he’s very good at. And he works really hard at it. He’s a big body when you run into him. So, he’s made a huge difference in our defense; there’s no question about it.”

And a chance to play, make a difference in winning games, is all that Baynes was searching for during the offseason.

Boston has been exactly what he was searching for.

And while he doesn’t get the kind of attention that Irving or Tatum receives, make no mistake about it.

His teammates appreciate all that he does, night-in and night-out for the sake of winning games.

“He probably doesn’t get enough credit that he deserves,” Tatum said. “He’s a veteran; has won a championship. He does it all, whatever coach asks him to do, whatever the team needs on a given night, he does it.”

Which is reason enough for Celtics fans to do what Baynes does every game no matter how intense things get; and that’s to keep on smiling.

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Can the Celtics seal the deal on the road?

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Can the Celtics seal the deal on the road?

MILWAUKEE – This season has been one filled with lessons for the Boston Celtics, so why should tonight be any different?

These Celtics have seen their share of hostile crowds, but an elimination game on the road will be unlike any game many of the players have experienced before in their still-young NBA careers.One of the pillars of road success in elimination games is keeping the crowd from being a factor which is a lot easier said than done.

“Just keep moving the ball and not feeding into the crowd and things like that,” said Boston’s Marcus Morris. “If we stick together and continue to do the game plan, I think we’ll win.”

Marcus Smart added, “staying disciplined. They’re gonna go on a big run. They’re gonna have the crowd behind them; they’re gonna be amped up. This is win or go home for them. So, we’re gonna get their best shot. We have to stay disciplined. When they go on those runs, we can’t come down and take a bad shot or have a turnover. We have to come down, make a move and make them work.”

Here are five under the radar storylines heading into tonight’s Game 6 matchup between Boston and Milwaukee.

 

JAYLEN BROWN

Marcus Smart has earned a considerable amount of credit for how much better the Celtics have been seen since he returned to the lineup prior to Game 5.

But Jaylen Brown has also been a key to Boston entering tonight’s Game 6 matchup with a chance to end the series.

Indeed, the Celtics have been a different kind of team when Brown has gone to the bench to get a breather.

Boston’s on-the-court offensive rating when Brown is on the court is 113.5 When he’s off, it plummets to 84.5. And defensively, Boston’s defensive rating with Brown is 103.5, and 124.0 without him. In addition, Boston is +8.8 when he’s on the floor, and -8.6 when he’s off.

THE 3-POINT SHOT

We saw all season just how important the 3-point shot was to the Boston Celtics. The shot’s value remains just as high now to the Green Team. In fact, it is one of the more telling aspects of their play that tips you off to whether they’re playing. In Boston’s three wins, the Celtics have taken more 3’s than the Bucks – a trend Boston wants to bring on the road.

ALMOST COMPLETE

This is the fourth time these two have met in the playoffs with Boston jumping out to a 2-0 series lead. In the previous three, Boston won in seven games (1987 Eastern Conference semis), four games (1996 Eastern Conference semis) and five games (1984 Eastern Conference finals). So a win tonight for Boston in Game 6 would complete the up 2-zip on the Bucks cycle.

BOTH TEAMS, TO THE POINT

Five games into this series and there has been very little separation between these two teams in several areas of play which includes scoring. Boston has scored a total of 519 points. And the Bucks? They are right there, having tallied a total of 520 points.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING

Here are a few historical nuggets to munch on before tip-off tonight. Boston is 35-0 in playoff series that began with them winning Games 1 and 2. Meanwhile, the Bucks are 0-13 when they fell behind 2-0 in a playoff series. And when it comes to Game 6s, Boston has a 31-29 record all-time.

 

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Smart out of Celtics' Game 6 starting lineup, Ojeleye in

Smart out of Celtics' Game 6 starting lineup, Ojeleye in

MILWAUKEE— Brad Stevens is not averse to shaking up the Boston Celtics starting lineup, regardless of where a playoff series may stand.

And as eager as it may be for some to see Marcus Smart roaming the floor with the first unit in tonight’s close-out game against Milwaukee, both Smart and Stevens shot the idea down quickly.

“We haven’t talked about (me starting),” said Smart, who returned to the lineup for Game 5 following a right thumb injury that sidelined him for almost six weeks. “We actually like our starting lineup.”

Boston inserted rookie Semi Ojeleye into the starting lineup for Boston’s 92-87 Game 5 win, in place of Aron Baynes.

“Semi Ojeleye has been doing a great job on Giannis (Antetokounmpo). He matches up really well,” Smart said. “When you got somebody his size, his determination, that’s good for us. We like our matchups, the way we are to starting off the game and me coming off, bringing that energy off the bench.”

Stevens was more succinct when asked if he was considering inserting Smart into the starting lineup.

“No,” Stevens said.

While there is no mistaking the huge impact that Smart’s return for Game 5 had after missing almost six weeks with a right thumb injury, Stevens usually makes changes when there’s an area in which the Celtics need to address immediately.

In the first round of the playoffs last season against Chicago, Boston needed a jolt offensively with the first unit. 

In came Gerald Green who helped Boston win four straight over the Bulls after falling behind 2-0 in the series. 

Boston, up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, are in a much different place right now.

They come into tonight’s Game 6 matchup coming off their best defensive performance of this series.

And while Smart played a major role in that happening, Boston’s Game 5 win was a victory fueled by an across-the-board defensive effort.

Smart’s impact will be felt whether he’s starting or not.

Plus, inserting him at this point for Ojeleye or Terry Rozier, is a risk that based on where this series is and how Boston is playing, isn’t worth taking.

Rozier hasn’t been nearly as good on the road in this series as he has been at the TD Garden.

But having him in the starting lineup keeps the Bucks more honest defensively, well aware that Rozier is a better shooter and scorer than Smart.

Plus, benching Rozier at this point in the series would be a major blow to his growing confidence which is part of why he has had more strong games in his role as a starter for Kyrie Irving (left knee recovery), than weak ones.

One of the keys for Boston will be to get off to a better start, something that Smart can impact either as a starter or getting the call early off the bench.

In Boston’s Game 3 loss, Milwaukee began the game with a 16-6 run. And in Game 4, the Bucks closed out the first quarter with a 19-5 run before holding on for a two-point win.

Ultimately, Game 6 will be determined by which team does the better job down the stretch.

And for the Celtics, that usually involves Smart being on the floor.

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