NBA legend Charles Barkley has urged Celtics coach Brad Stevens to give Aron Baynes more court time after the Australian delivered a star cameo on Wednesday.
Boston made a blistering start to the new season by thrashing the Philadelphia 76ers 105-87 in front of a raucous crowd at TD Garden. It helped justify their status as heavy favourites to seize the Eastern Conference this season and exciting times lie ahead for Celtics fans. But Baynes will not be too happy spending too much time on the bench when he is in such brilliant form.
“They have to play Aron Baynes more,” said Barkley, an 11-time NBA All-Star, when analysing the game for TNT. “That is my takeaway. He does all of the dirty work.”
Baynes was a mainstay in a Celtics team that finished second in the Eastern Conference ladder last season and went deep into the playoffs, despite injuries to star duo Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. They are not back in action, and the Celtics are blessed with an extremely strong roster studded with exciting young talent, such as Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Baynes impresses with gritty defensive work
Playing time is therefore expected to be limited for Baynes this season, but Barkley believes this should not be the case. The Queenslander only played 19 minutes in the crushing victory over Philadelphia, and in that time he recorded eight points eight points, racked up four rebounds and provided three assists, while he hit two of his four three-point attempts. But it was his work off the ball that really impressed Barkley. Baynes helps his teammates thrive as he is happy to track back and do the gritty defensive work.
Joel Embiid’s kryptonite
He may just represent kryptonite for Philadelphia star Joel Embiid. The towering Cameroonian is one of the best players in the league, but Stevens has done a great job in limiting his effectiveness, and Baynes is a key part of that. The Australian’s size and strength allow him to make life extremely uncomfortable for Embiid and he has to earn every point. As such, the Celtics were able to pick up a thumping 105-87 victory over the conference rivals.
Before the season began, the Celtics were the $2 favourites with the bookmakers to win the Eastern Conference, while the 76ers were $5 second favourites. The odds have now dipped slightly on Boston seizing glory, while Philadelphia have been pushed out after that heavy defeat. The Eastern Conference has been blown wide open after LeBron James left the Cavaliers for LA, and Cleveland are now $201 outsiders to win the conference for a fifth straight season.
NBA Coach of the Year
The Celtics clearly have the best team in the division, highlighted by their ability to leave Baynes on the bench, and they are led by Coach of the Year Stevens. But if Baynes keeps playing this well at both ends of the court, it will be increasingly difficult to justify leaving him out. There is understandably considerable excitement among hoops fans in Australia and New Zealand, where Baynes was born. Betting on the Celtics is likely to be popular in both countries, as sports wagering is soaring in both countries.
In New Zealand, casino betting is huge and bestcasinos.nz provides a number of options for New Zealanders and Australians that like to place bets and gamble. You can find a huge variety of offers, and that is fuelling a boom for betting, which sports wagering is also benefiting from. The NBA is especially popular in Australia and New Zealand as it works from a time difference point of view in a way that, for instance, English Premiership football – which is on during the middle of the night – does not.
Baynes to muscle his way in
There is every reason to think that Baynes can muscle his way more and more into Stevens’ plans and play a starring role once again this season. The Celtics are blessed with outrageous depth and it is easy to imagine them finishing top of the ladder and claiming top seed for the playoffs. The Sixers do not yet look ready to challenge, while Toronto may also struggle if Kawhi Leonard cannot rediscover his very best form and fitness, so it looks like the Celtics have a clear path to the NBA Finals.