5. Aron Baynes needs to hold the paint
With Victor Oladipo going down for the season, the Indiana Pacers were left with Bojan Bogdanovic, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis as their most potent scorers. While Bogdanovic does the bulk of his damage from the perimeter, Turner and Sabonis are two towering big men that have shooting touch both inside the paint and outside, making them a handful for any defensive frontcourt.
This is where Aron Baynes comes in. The Celtics are unique in that they may be one of the only teams in the NBA where the possibilities they have on defense expand when they go with a traditional two big men lineup in Al Horford and Aron Baynes.
This is because of Horford’s versatility, which is complemented by Baynes knack for always being in the right spot on defense. Al Horford can almost play a roaming center, challenging players on the outside while still having the foot speed to stay with smaller and quicker offensive players.
This means that for a lot of matchups this series, Baynes will be left alone in the paint to cover either Turner or Sabonis in a one-on-one situation. Baynes needs to do what he can to ensure that neither of these guys can consistently score on him, which would open up the floor for all of Indiana’s shooters and break the Celtics defense wide open.
If Baynes can win a good percentage of these matchups, Indiana will most likely get frustrated and stop looking to the post for scoring. Both Sabonis and Turner have an effective outside jumper, but if Baynes can force them out of the paint and to the perimeter, Boston’s lengthy wing defenders have the physical capabilities to get good contests on their shots.
If Boston can force Indy to look to the perimeter for the bulk of their scoring options, then they have a really good shot at winning this series with their versatile and talented defenders.