BOSTON — Boston Celtics big man Aron Baynes fractured the fourth metacarpal in his left hand in the first quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns and is out indefinitely.
Baynes could be seen flexing his hand in pain after hitting it on Suns rookie DeAndre Ayton just 90 seconds into Wednesday’s game. Baynes stayed on the floor but was grimacing after teammate Kyrie Irving slapped his left hand following a loud Baynes dunk.
Baynes talked to the training staff on the sideline, then slammed down a cup of water after trainer Art Horne directed him to the locker room. The team announced the hand fracture later in the first half.
“Aron’s got a broken hand,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "I don’t know any updates on timelines or anything like that, but clearly going to be out for some time. And I saw the X-rays, so I can confirm that one — and even I could see the break. So who knows how long he’s going to be out but he’s disappointed. Obviously, he started off the game great and then it was too bad to lose him two minutes in.”
The Athletic reported that Baynes will undergo surgery and will miss a month of play. Past surgical repairs for metacarpal injuries have suggested a 4-6 week recovery, which would means Baynes would miss at least 17 games as Boston’s schedule intensifies into the new calendar year.
“Not a good sight for us knowing how much we need Baynes,” said rookie big man Robert Williams. "Just next man up mentality, always got to be ready.”
While Baynes averages only 14.8 minutes per game this season, his impact shouldn’t be overlooked. The Celtics own a net rating of plus-10.4 in Baynes’ 356 minutes of floor time this season, or the best mark among any player on the team with 300+ minutes.
Boston’s net rating with Baynes is off the court slides to plus-5.3 during its 1,099 minutes without him. Boston’s defensive rating does spike 5.3 points per 100 possessions without Baynes, who provides a bruising backline presence when he’s on the court.
The Celtics are currently thin on big men as Al Horford (knee) and Guerschon Yabusele (ankle) work their way back. Horford has missed six straight games, and eight of the team’s last 12, while trying to strengthen a bothersome left knee but is expected back soon. Yabusele is still working through an ankle sprain and there is no timeline for his return.
The Celtics can fill Baynes’ minutes with some combination of second-year big man Daniel Theis and Williams. Advanced metrics reflect well on Theis in limited time and he owns one of the best net ratings (plus-17.3) in the NBA.
Williams has dazzled with his ability to block shots and throw down loud alley-oop dunks, earning him immediate fan-favorite status. But he’s still very raw and learning the right time to go for blocks and when to stay disciplined and try to help the team on the glass.
“That is just something I need to work on, defensively, when to go and when to stay with my man,” said Williams. "In due time I’ll learn.”
Williams deemed himself ready to help fill Baynes’ minutes.
"It’s terrible. Everybody needs Baynes,” said Williams. "Just have to step up with him out."
And is Williams ready for that potentially inflated role?
"Of course,” said Williams. “It’s my job.
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