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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Gordon Hayward already back on the court and draining threes

hayward-rehab-122117.png

Gordon Hayward already back on the court and draining threes

Gordon Hayward had just about the most horrific debut any player could imagine.

We won't get into the details again, but it left many wondering the Celtics would even recover emotionally to compete in the East.

Now it's clear they are more than prepared to make some noise in the playoffs.

The most important recovery is Hayward's and tonight fans scrolled through social media to see encouraging progress.

Still can’t beat me... 🤷🏻‍♀️

A post shared by Robyn Hayward (@robynmhayward) on

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Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

BOSTON – While it’s too soon to hit the panic button on the Boston Celtics’ season, Sunday’s 103-95 loss to Orlando is disturbing on multiple fronts. 

For starters, the Magic (14-32) have been in the NBA basement most of the season, so for them to see the light towards victory, on the road nonetheless, against the Celtics is bothersome for the Green Team. 

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Magic

Boston came into Sunday’s game with an impressive 17-3 record against teams with a sub-.500 record.

Making matters even worst, it was Boston’s third straight loss – a first for the Celtics this season - with all three defeats coming at the TD Garden. 

Celtics big man Al Horford said the team needs a “Fight for our lives’” mentality heading into Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

While no one wants to lose game, having to overcome some hurdles along the journey isn’t always a bad thing.

“Gotta have some adversity,” said Kyrie Irving who led all scorers with 40 points - the second time he has reached the 40-point plateau this season (47 points, Nov. 20 at Dallas). “We need it as a team. There’s a lot more adversity down the road. You have to be able to weather the storm no matter what.”

Aside from Gordon Hayward’s dislocated ankle injury in the season-opener, dropping three straight is probably the biggest adversity the Celtics have had this season. 

And this latest setback came against an Orlando franchise that the Celtics have absolutely owned at home. 

Prior to Sunday’s loss, Boston had not lost to the Magic at home since Feb. 7, 2010 with 14 straight wins.

"We didn't underestimate them," said Boston's Jaylen Brown who had 17 points. "They've been playing a lot better than they've been playing all year."

Al Horford echoed similar sentiments.

“You can’t underestimate any team,” Horford said. “I don’t think we necessarily did, but we need to have that sense of urgency like we started the game and be able to hold that throughout the game. That’s important.”

So is making the most of transition scoring opportunities which was an area of play in which the Celtics struggled mightily all game. 

Boston wound up with six, fast-break points on just 3-for-9 shooting. 

“We had some transition opportunities that we didn’t covert,” acknowledged Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. 

Failing to capitalize on those easy scoring opportunities came back to hurt Boston and in hindsight, proved to be one of the key differences in the game’s outcome. 

“Whether you’re doing things at an optimum level as you would like, that’s part of the game of learning one another,” Irving said. “Being able to figure out how to respond from that. Us as a group, we’ve come together in the last four months, five months, it’s new. We need to hit something like this in order for us to grow. It’s part of the game; part of being on a team, part of being a professional. Any team, any environment, you have to have stuff like this where you have to figure it out.”

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