Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: 'Physical and tough' Baynes making impact

Stars, studs and duds: 'Physical and tough' Baynes making impact

When evaluating the Boston Celtics’ offseason, the addition of Aron Baynes was seen by many as just an afterthought.

Instead, Baynes’ interior play has given a number of teams second thoughts about not pursuing him because his impact on this Celtics team cannot be understated.

There are a number of reasons for why they have been so solid defensively, with Baynes’ play being chief among them.

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Indeed, his play around the rim was instrumental in Boston extending its winning streak to four in a row following Saturday night’s 96-90 win at Miami.

Baynes had six points, five rebounds and four blocked shots, not to mention several contested shots that more often than not, were off the mark.

“Everybody has their own role to play and value to add,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He’s physical and tough.”

Baynes signed a one-year, $4.3 million contract with the Celtics this summer with no true sense of what his role would be.

But he trusted Brad Stevens, believed in the system in place and it has worked out as well as anyone could have imagined for both him and the Celtics.

“I’m just really enjoying it, and also within Brad’s system he puts us in the right place to succeed,” Baynes said. “If we play within that, we’re going to do alright as well.”

The Celtics are playing well, but Baynes is well aware that this team – and his impact on it – still has room to get better.

“We’re a work in progress,” Baynes said. “But headed in the right direction.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 96-90 win over Miami to extend the Celtics winning streak to four straight.

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving

“End of the game, it’s winning time.” And in case you didn’t know, Irving is all about winning folks. He finished with 24 points, but absolutely took over when it mattered in the final two minutes by scoring nine of Boston’s last 10 points to get the victory.

Jayson Tatum

The 19-year-old continues to play at a level far beyond his youth. He finished with 20 points for the second time in just six games. To put that in perspective, among the top-5 all-time scorers in Celtics history, only one (Larry Bird who did so in just five games) had at least two 20-point games quicker than Tatum who hit the 20-or-more point plateau for the second time in six games this season.

Goran Dragic

Irving and Tatum garnered most of the headlines in this matchup, but don’t sleep on Dragic. He had an impressive game as well, scoring 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting with four assists and three rebounds.

 

STUDS

Marcus Smart

He once again provided a little bit of everything for the Celtics. He had a season-high 16 points off the bench with four rebounds, four assists and two steals along with having yet another strong night defensively.

Josh Richardson

The Miami Heat paid him big-time this summer by way of a four-year, $42 million extension, and it’s clear why. Richardson has a well-rounded game and finished with 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting. However, the game-high six turnovers?

Aron Baynes

Boston’s defense has been really good this year, and the addition of Baynes has a lot to do with it. He had six points, five rebounds and four blocked shots, not to mention countless contested shots that allowed Boston to hold an opponent to 90 points or less for the third straight game.

 

DUDS

Jaylen Brown

It was another rough night shooting the ball for Brown who missed six of his seven shots from the field on Saturday. After his lone made basket, he was whistled for a technical which set into motion a 7-0 Miami Heat run.

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Celtics offense struggles mightily in Game 3 loss to Bucks

Celtics offense struggles mightily in Game 3 loss to Bucks

MILWAUKEE – The Boston Celtics have had their share of offensive clunkers this season.

But few were as painfully woeful as what transpired in the first half of Boston’s 116-92 Game 3 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Boston now has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 in Milwaukee on Sunday and Game 5 back in Boston on Tuesday.

“I didn’t think we were great, but offensively we were horrendous in the first (half),” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “We were on our heels the whole time.”

Boston found itself in a 16-6 ditch to start the game, and it didn’t get much better from there.

Milwaukee shot 55 percent from the field in the first quarter, but the killer for Boston in the first was their 2-for-19 (10.5 percent) shooting from the field which put the Celtics in a 27-12 hole after one quarter of play.

Offensive struggles are nothing new for Boston which shot 45 percent from the field in the regular season which ranked 23rd in the NBA. 

They haven’t been much better in the playoffs, connecting on just 45.1 percent of their shots which ranks ninth among the 16 teams in the playoffs.

Things got better offensively for Boston in the second quarter and they wound up shooting a respectable 50 percent (10-for-20) from the field. 

But it still wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Bucks who connected on 63.2 percent (12-for-19) of their shots in the second quarter which pushed their halftime lead to 58-35.

“We got in a hole. This is new for our group,” said Al Horford. “It’s the first time we’ve gone on the road in the playoffs in a tough environment. We did some good things there, but at that point, they had it going. Give them credit. They had it going, and we really didn’t have an answer for them tonight.”

And that more than anything else, should be a major concern for the Celtics heading into Game 4 on Sunday.

If they’re not getting more stops defensively, their offense has to be more efficient, more impactful than what we saw in Game 3 if the Celtics are to continue to remain in control. 

“They did what they had to do out there,” Boston’s Marcus Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “They were the more desperate team. They did what they had to do. We’ll see them on Sunday.”

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Middleton has another big game as Celtics fall to Bucks in Game 3

Middleton has another big game as Celtics fall to Bucks in Game 3

MILWAUKEE – Here are the Stars, Studs, and Duds from Boston’s 116-92 Game 3 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

MORE - Stevens: 'We were on our heels the whole time'

STARS

Khris Middleton: It was yet another impactful, highly efficient game for Middleton. He led all scorers with 23 points on 10-for-17 shooting along with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: He was still a central figure in Milwaukee’s scoring, but the Bucks weren’t nearly as dependent on him to carry the scoring load in Game 3. That said, Antetokounmpo still finished with a strong 19-point, five-rebound, five-assist performance. 

Al Horford: Horford had 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting, but didn’t get much help from his teammates who were a combined 25-for-67 (37.3 percent).

 

STUDS

Thon Maker: A seldom-used reserve in Games 1 and 2, Maker was a true difference-maker for the Bucks. In addition to scoring 14 points, he also grabbed five rebounds and tallied five blocked shots.

Eric Bledsoe: Give Bledsoe credit. He said he would be better back in Milwaukee, and he backed it up with a strong performance. He had 17 points on 8-for-13 shooting.

Bucks bench: The play of Thon Maker stood out, but he wasn’t the only Milwaukee backup to step up with a strong Game 3 performance. Matthew Dellavedova (5 points) and Jabari Parker (17 points on 7-for-12 shooting) were part of a Bucks bench that outscored Boston’s second unit, 50-34.

Aron Baynes: Baynes played 30 minutes and made the most of his opportunities to score, tallying eight points on 3-for-3 shooting (he made both of his 3-point attempts) along with grabbing eight rebounds.

 

DUDS

Terry Rozier: We haven’t seen Terry Rozier struggle like we did in Game 3 in quite some time. Rozier, who came in averaging 23 points after the first two games, had just nine points on 2-for-7 shooting in Game 3. More significant was Rozier’s five turnovers – he had zero in Games 1 and 2.

Marcus Morris: Milwaukee did a much better limiting Marcus Morris who was a major matchup in Games 1 and 2. In Friday’s Game 3 matchup, Morris had just seven points on 2-for-8 shooting.

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