BOSTON –- While Aron Baynes will be most remembered by many in Boston's second-round series as the big fella who seemed to get dunked on frequently by Joel Embiid, Baynes called the battles with Embiid a lot of fun.
And it was in Game 5, where Baynes truly got the last laugh as Boston held on for a 114-112 win Wednesday night to close out the series.
Baynes’ defense has been the primary reason for him seeing a spike in minutes played this season. But it was his scoring touch -- from 3-point range, of all places -- that provided a much-needed spark for the Celtics, which seemed to help pave the way to victory.
Baynes had a tip-in near the end of the first quarter that would be the final points scored in the period, which ended with the Celtics clinging to a one-point lead.
He was even more clutch in the second quarter after draining a 3-pointer that put Boston ahead 56-52, its largest lead of the game up to that point. That set in motion a five-point run that gave them a 61-52 lead at the half.
Whether it’s scoring, rebounding, getting under the skin of Embiid (he fouled Baynes, then got hit with a tech for pushing Baynes immediately after the play out of clear frustration), Baynes provided a little bit of everything for Boston.
“Any time I’m out on the court, I’m appreciative to be out there,” said Baynes who finished with a career playoff-high 13 points and almost had a double-double with nine rebounds. “I’m just trying to play within our system, trying to help the team out as best I can.”
Jayson Tatum’s game-high 25 points stood out, as did Jaylen Brown dropping 24 points in his return to the starting lineup. And while he didn’t shoot the ball great, Scary Terry Rozier (17 points, 6 rebounds) was good as well.
But the first real Celtics run of the game came near the end of second quarter, sparked by the play of Baynes.
And though Embiid had another big game (27 points, 13 rebounds), once again it was Baynes making him work harder than most to be effective.
You can count Al Horford among the Celtics players appreciative of what Baynes brought to the floor not only in Game 5, but throughout the series.
“Amazing! Aron in the way he prepares, the challenges he’s taken because he’s really had to change his game all year,” Horford said. “He’s extended his range, he’s shooting 3’s now, he’s taken the challenge defensively being our rim protector every night. I’m just so happy for him to see him have success at this level and tonight he was great for us.”