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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Watch: Gordon Hayward dunks over defender

Watch: Gordon Hayward dunks over defender

Gordon Hayward's return from his ankle injury seems to be as close to complete as it could before training camp. 

In a video posted by his trainer Jason Smeathers, Hayward can be found blowing by a defender off the dribble and dunking on him with two hands. 

Soon, the defender will hopefully be someone like Ben Simmons or Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Hayward's recovery has been well documented, giving Celtics fans a constant progress report of where their star forward was in his path back to the TD Garden floor. 

There have been questions surrounding Hayward's return to a team that made it to Game 7 of the conference finals without him, but there was never gaps in information regarding his recovery.

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Mannix: LeBron, Lakers will fall short of postseason

Mannix: LeBron, Lakers will fall short of postseason

After reaching the NBA Finals in eight straight seasons while shouldering an unprecedented workload, the idea of LeBron James missing the playoffs entirely sounds blasphemous.

Chris Mannix, however, thinks, with their current roster, the new-look Lakers will fall short of the postseason for the sixth straight season.

“It’s the island of misfit toys out there...and LeBron James,” said Mannix.

The Lakers finished the 2017-18 NBA season 35-47, 12 games behind the eighth-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves.

“You have to assume it’s 48 wins to get into the playoffs in the Western Conference,” Mannix added. “I don’t see that team making up that difference.”

James wasn’t the only addition Los Angeles made, however, bringing in veterans Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, Javale McGee, and resigning Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

If the Lakers do miss the playoffs, it will be James’ first missed postseason since the 2004-05 season, when his Cleveland Cavaliers fell short despite the 20-year-old James averaging over 27 points per game.