Prior to tip-off between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers today, Celtics coach Brad Stevens announced that Aussie Aron Baynes would get the start for the Celtics.
Baynes, who signed with the Celtics over the off-season, became the first ever Australian to start for the Boston Celtics. And no, Kyrie Irving doesn't count!
— The Pick and Roll (@PickandRollAU) October 20, 2017
After injuries to Gordon Hayward and then Marcus Smart, Stevens turned to Baynes to add some power and energy to the starting group.
And that he did.
An and-1 opportunity one and a half minutes into the game (albeit finished with a missed free throw), followed by a mid-range jumper got things off to a quick start.
His rebounding and physicality were key for the Celtics early, but that physicality led to three fouls in the first quarter.
Matching up against Philly's Joel Embiid is not an easy task, but Baynes was able to compete against him and although the match-up ultimately caused Baynes' foul trouble, he was able to slow the big man down.
Baynes' foul troubles continued but that didn't stop him from having a major impact on the game. Despite sitting on four fouls, he continued to be a presence in the post and forced two offensive fouls on Dario Saric in a matter of minutes in the third quarter.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 21, 2017
Baynes' buzzer-beating tip-in to end the third quarter set the tone for what would be a fourth quarter comeback for the Celtics.
Limited to just 14 minutes due to foul trouble, Baynes contributed 10 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists in a cameo role that helped the Celtics claim their first win of the season, 102-92.
After the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens was full of praise for the Aussie big man.
I love Baynes. He does all the little stuff and he's had a good first three games."
There's no doubt that Baynes' style of play is exactly what the Celtics need and with injuries already taking a toll, his role on the squad is becoming absolutely vital.
With the Celtics taking home the win, it leaves Ben Simmons and his Sixers at 0-2 to start off the season. Next up for the Celtics is the Knicks on Wednesday morning and for the Sixers, they take on the Raptors tomorrow.