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Celtics’ Aron Baynes out Sunday vs. Thunder

Aron Baynes, Celtics

Boston Celtics big man Aron Baynes will miss his team’s game on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a left foot contusion, the team announced on Twitter.

This is an especially inopportune time for the Celtics to be without the hulking Australian. Thunder center Steven Adams, enjoying the finest season of his six-year career, is generally considered the strongest player in the NBA — a trait he uses to dominate the offensive glass, free up teammates with bone-crushing screens and establish deep post position against overmatched defenders. The presence of Baynes, never afraid of physicality, would have gone a long way towards mitigating the many subtle effects Adams makes on the game.

Instead, Boston will rely even more on starting center Al Horford, while also giving minutes to backup big man Daniel Theis. High-flying rookie Robert Williams could also be a factor against the Oklahoma City, which routinely overwhelms opponents with its unmatched combination of speed, length and overall athleticism.

Baynes has taken somewhat of a back seat in 2018-19 after emerging as one of the league’s most pleasant surprises last season. He’s averaging 14.9 minutes per game, down from a career-high 18.3, and has only started five games after opening 67 contests for the Celtics a year ago. Baynes returned to the lineup on January 16th after missing the previous month of play with a fractured fourth metacarpal in his left hand, an injury that required surgery.

Fortunately, this more recent malady doesn’t seem nearly as serious. Expect Baynes to be back on the floor again soon.