Broken Baynes reveals playoffs bravery
ARON Baynes had a positive message for his young, defeated Boston Celtics squad after they were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs by LeBron James' latest superhuman effort.
In a post-game address to his teammates, Baynes recalled how he was on the San Antonio Spurs side who lost a heartbreaking game seven in the championship series to the James-led Miami Heat in 2013.
The loss did not weaken the Spurs, featuring All-Star Tim Duncan and fellow Australian Patty Mills, but made them stronger and the next year they comprehensively beat James and the Heat 4-1 to win the title. "I told the team the 2013 Spurs lost a game seven and it galvanised the group," Baynes said.
Baynes revealed he broke his nose in Friday's game-six loss to the Cavaliers and will have to undergo surgery.
"This is probably the best I've felt at the end of any season," Baynes told reporters. "That's a big credit to our support staff that we have, even though I've got to go get surgery to fix the nose right now; that one got broken a few games back - a couple games back, actually…"
"Last one in Cleveland. It's a little bit crooked, moving a little bit right now."
Baynes played through the injury and did so again in Boston for Game 7, without a mask. He did not indicate how the break occurred, but did state that he is otherwise fine.
"Apart from that I feel great."
James played all 48 minutes of Sunday night's Eastern Conference game seven 87-79 victory in Boston and had a monster 35 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.
The Celtics had led for most of the game, but wilted down the stretch. The Cavs won the series 4-3 and will play the winner of the Western Conference Finals between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. That series will be decided on Monday (Tuesday AEST 11am) in a game seven in Houston.
The Celtics overachieved this season.
They were not given much of a chance after All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward suffered season-ending injuries.
Coach Brad Stevens, however, rallied his team, led by NBA Rookie of the Year candidate Jayson Tatum and a young core of players - including Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier - stepped up to support Baynes and All-Star forward Al Horford to make the playoff run.
Baynes was on a relatively cheap one-year $US4.3 million ($5.7m) contract with the Celtics and now becomes an unrestricted free agent.
His playoff form will likely result in new multi-year contract offers from rival teams, putting him alongside the deals Boomer teammates Joe Ingles (four- year $US52 million with the Utah Jazz) and Mills (four-years $US49 million with the Spurs) pocketed last year.
Baynes is open to returning to Boston.
"I would love to be a part of it in the future," Baynes said.