One of the nine other guys is generally good enough to describe anyone on a basketball court with LeBron James, but the Boston Celtics, off their recent 109 – 83 demolition of the Cleveland Cavaliers, had praise for Aussie Aron Baynes, although they did stop short of saying he was right fair dinkum.
You have to score points to earn that phrase. Baynes was cited for his defensive impact, where he forced the Cavs to turn the ball over or take bad shots, the sorts of things that do not show up in the box scores.
Baynes’ stat line for the game will show that he scored four points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out two assists, but in between those numbers lies the reality that between Baynes and teammates Al Horford and Marcus Morris, LeBron James was reduced to a glaring hulk sitting on the side as he was limited to 15 points and committed seven turnovers in the bargain.
Baynes was an instrumental factor in Boston’s dismissal of the Philadelphia 76ers and rookie phenom Ben Simmons. He started in every game, yet was uncomplaining when he was relegated to coming off the bench as the Celtics opted for a smaller, quicker lineup for the series with Cleveland.
“Being able to take him in and out of the line-up, he’s set a great example for everybody else,” Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said in praise of Baynes’ selfless attitude and team-first mindset.
“I’ve said this not enough times: You can’t have better leaders than Al (Horford) and Baynes, said Stevens. “Baynes has been our anchor down there all year.”
A latter day Andrew Bogut, perhaps?
If Baynes continues as he did in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals, we may have to describe it as LeBron, Aron and eight other guys.