Boston Celtics: The value and hidden asset of Aron Baynes

The Boston Celtics are a team full of all-stars, former all-stars, and future all-stars, but it may be a role player who holds the most important key to this team’s success.

Rarely does a player who plays 20-25 minutes per game hold such an importance to a playoff-bound team. For the Boston Celtics, Aron Baynes is exactly that guy.

That’s right. It’s the production of Baynes that could play a huge factor in how far the Celtics advance this postseason.

In his second year with Boston, Baynes has battled a variety of injuries. A broken left hand  and a foot injury meant Baynes played only a total of 15 games between December and the end of February. When he did play during those three months, the Celtics went 11-3.

Winning with Baynes in the lineup has (mostly) been a theme so far in 2018-19. A 112-102 win against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night moved the Celtics to 2-0 in April. (Look at that sample size!)

Since December 1, the Celtics are 21-9 when Baynes plays and 31-18 on the season. There have been hiccups, of course, but when Baynes is in the starting lineup the Celtics give the illusion they are a much better team.

Boston is bigger when Baynes is on the court. Players like Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the likely big men Baynes might match up against come playoff time. When Baynes is healthy, he is able to spend his time guarding players like this, freeing up Al Horford to spend more energy on the offensive end rather than emptying the tank against these big men.

Baynes and the Celtics stretch run

At this point, the Celtics are guaranteed no lower than the fifth-seed. Believe it or not, the third-seed is still in play. Boston is currently 2.5 games back of Philadelphia with three to play (the 76ers have four left). No matter where the Celtics land, Baynes will be important.

Prior to tonight’s game against the Heat, Haynes was averaging 5.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Not exactly going to have people screaming “stop the presses” with those numbers — people still do that, right? But a solid enough contribution its noticed when Baynes is out.

Baynes averages just short of 16 minutes minutes per game, but hopefully that number will continue to go up. For the second time in the last week, Baynes dropped a double-double, scoring 10 points and pulling down 10 boards against the Heat.

In a victory last week over the Indiana Pacers, Baynes accomplished the feat with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Even then, Baynes has only reached double digits in points seven times and rebounds four times this season.

The importance of Baynes is measured in heart, in energy, and in defense. When he brings those three aspects to the court, the Celtics play with a little more flair and a little more cohesion. Other players bring more scoring and more highlights than Baynes, but it is the man from New Zealand who keeps the Celtics afloat.

Plus, is there any better feeling than when the big man hits a three? I don’t think so.