Aron Baynes was a game-time decision after taking a blow to the stomach against San Antonio on Friday.
He played on Sunday afternoon, and delivered one of his best games of the season which was indeed a kick in the stomach to Detroit whose fourth-quarter comeback efforts came up short in Boston’s 91-81 victory.
Baynes didn't score much (six points), but his defense and rebounding (13 rebounds) would prove pivotal in Boston's win.
Boston (23-5) got off to a slow start but spent most of the game playing with a lead. Al Horford led the Celtics with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists while Kyrie Irving chipped in with 16 points. Tobias Harris led all scorers with 19 points.
But Detroit, among the best comeback teams in the NBA, didn’t go down quietly.
Detroit (14-12), which has now lost six straight, were on the comeback trail with a 12-0 run in the fourth that coincided with the Celtics missing 12 straight shots.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens had seen enough when he called a time-out with 4:19 to play and Boston clinging to a 79-75 lead.
Jaylen Brown ended the shot-making slump for Boston with a driving basket to the lane, only for Andre Drummond to get a tip-in – his first points of the game – cut into Boston’s lead.
As Detroit fought back, the Celtics continued to make all the necessary plays which included a 3-pointer by Al Horford and a driving lay-up by Marcus Smart, the latter putting Boston ahead 89-80.
While they were getting it done down the stretch, the player of the game for Boston was easily Aron Baynes.
A game-time decision after taking a blow to the stomach at San Antonio on Friday, Baynes had six points and a season-high 13 rebounds in addition to doing an impressive job in limiting Drummond all game.
Drummond, who had 26 points and 22 rebounds against Boston on Nov. 27, was held to just six points and 15 rebounds.
Detroit opened the game with a 10-4 run, looking to pick up where they left off when the two met on Nov. 27 and the Pistons handed Boston a 118-108 defeat, Boston’s worst loss of the season.
However, the Celtics bounced back with a 11-0 run of their own and continued to play with a lead that slowly but surely, steadily expanded.
Leading 44-37 at the half, Boston scored the first five points of the third – a tip-in by Baynes, a Brown lay-up and a technical free throw by Kyrie Irving after Drummond was whistled for a technical with 10:23 to play in the third.
Boston would spend most of the third quarter milking a double-digit lead, with the quarter ending with the Celtics ahead 73-59 as Terry Rozier drained a 3-pointer that just beat the third quarter horn sounding off.