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.