Keith Smith: Sometimes you have to watch a game to appreciate a player's impact, as opposed to just checking out the box score. Sure, you can see that Aron Baynes grabbed 13 rebounds and surmise he had a good game. But if you watched the game, you saw how one guy can control a game on defense almost by himself.
When the Pistons and Celtics last played, about two weeks ago, Detroit picked and rolled Boston to death. Whether it was Reggie Jackson or Ish Smith or Tobias Harris or Avery Bradley, the Pistons ball handlers worked the Celtics all game long. They either finished themselves or, quite often, found Andre Drummond for finishes at the rim. In a very real sense, the most simple play in basketball killed the vaunted Boston defense.
Today was different and it was almost all because of Baynes. The Pistons tried the pick and roll game early and often, but Baynes was there to shut it down. Because Boston prefers to switch whenever possible, and then switch back as quick as they can, it puts the bigs in tough position. They have to hedge hard on the ball handler, then recover quickly to the roll man. Today, they never asked Baynes to switch, but instead asked him to fully hedge and fully recover to Drummond.
With Baynes anchoring against Drummond, he would cut off the ball handler, before tagging back hard to Drummond. This required him to keep his arms up or wide and then to hustle right back, without fouling. And every time Baynes recovered back to Drummond, he did so by putting his body into the Pistons big man. That kept Drummond from getting up for lobs and also kept him off the offensive boards.
It was a tweak to the Celtics preferred defensive scheme, because they didn't switch as. Baynes hedged, while the wings had to fight through the pick, so Baynes could get back to Drummond. He did so over and over and over. By the end of the game, the Pistons had simply given up on running any sort of screen and roll game.
When one guy can blow up an opponent's offense, and do it without blocking a bunch of shots or snagging steals, it deserves a good deal of recognition. Aron Baynes wasn't the sole reason the Celtics won today against his former team, but he was the biggest part of it.
Keith Smith: Did you see Jayson Tatum make this triple off a screen and roll, while going to his left?
Tatum has been remarkable as a shooter this year. He was hitting the fifth best percentage ever coming into today's game. Not just for a rookie, but for everyone. In the history of the NBA. Fifth best. As a 19 year old.
Most of those makes had come off open looks created by his teammates. If he's got pull up threes off the bounce out of screen and rolls in his bag of tricks, Tatum will be virtually unguardable. Slowly but surely, he's showing more and more of his game. Celtics fans are already in love, but with each passing game that love grows a little bit stronger for Boston's prized 19 year old.