It's no secret that Aron Baynes is the engine that keeps the Boston Celtics' defence ticking, with his team in freefall on the defensive end since the big man went down.
The Aussie has missed the past month with a right foot contusion and in the nine games he has missed, the Celtics' defensive rating is miles away from their top 5 ranking for the season, slipping to 23rd in the NBA at 114.6.
Coach Brad Stevens is hopeful that Baynes will will return to the lineup next week and it couldn't come sooner.
#NEBHInjuryReport Aron Baynes (foot contusion) will hopefully be day-to-day after this week, says Brad Stevens.- Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 25, 2019
While Baynes has been sidelined, they've given up 126 points to the Chicago Bulls, 134 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 129 to the Los Angeles Lakers and 118 to the Toronto Raptors today.
With the Raptors and Celtics likely to meet at the business end of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Baynes' return to full health will be even more important, using his 6-foot-10, 260-pound frame to match up against the likes of Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol and Pascal Siakam.
In today's 118-95 loss, Boston struggled to keep the Raptors out of the paint, giving up tons of easy buckets at the rim. Baynes' presence alone makes teams re-think their approach and the numbers paint a pretty bleak picture without the Aussie anchoring the defence.
EVERY @Raptors bucket during their 18-0 run!#CUsRise 39#WeTheNorth 55- NBA (@NBA) February 27, 2019
📺: @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/N9wJtNyuww
Boston's defensive rating improves from 106.2 to 97.9 when Baynes plays 15 minutes or more. In those same games, the Celtics' record is 15-2 and when he plays 15 minutes or less, they sit at 22-21.
2018-19 CELTICS WHEN…- Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) February 24, 2019
Aron Baynes plays 15 Minutes: 15-2
Aron Baynes plays 0-14 Minutes: 22-21
Defensive rating with Baynes: 97.9
Defensive Rating without Baynes: 106.2 https://t.co/habEHKmem9
Celtics entered February tied for 2nd in the NBA in defensive rating (104.7). That rating in February: 112.3, which ranks 21st in that span and Boston has slipped to fifth overall for season.- Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) February 26, 2019
More concerning: Boston's fourth-quarter defense (or lack thereof) 👇 pic.twitter.com/qMRO5hlUEX
Baynes' season has been disrupted by injuries, with a hamstring injury and a broken left hand forcing him to miss time in October and December, with the latest setback only adding to the frustration.
Despite the rough stretch, Baynes has remained positive and wants to continue to lead by example on the defensive end when he gets back on the floor.
"I'm on the baseline, I'm with the guys, talking to them," Baynes told ESPN Australia earlier this week. "I try not to talk too much, I think sometimes guys get six or seven people in their ear when something bad happens so I'm just trying to offer support when I'm out there and at the same time, I'm just making sure everybody sees me doing the right thing. I'm pretty visible when I'm out doing what I need to do."
"There's always challenges, every team faces challenges, we've just had a few different ones to what we did last year in the playoffs. It's a good thing though, we still have everyone available, nobody is out long term, which is one of the positives compared to last year."