Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Celtics Pregame: Al Horford, Aron Baynes will face biggest challenge of the season against Pelicans

When it comes to slowing down two of the league's best big men in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, two players cannot do it alone.

It's going to take various Celtics players to contain the league's most dominant front court duo but starting big men Al Horford and Aron Baynes will be Boston's first line of defense at TD Garden Tuesday night. In what will by far their most challenging assignments, expect Horford and Baynes to use their physicality and precise footwork in their approach as Davis and Cousins can dissect defenses in the post and from behind arc.

The post and perimeter hybrid attack creates tough mismatches for most opponents but while the Celtics have specialized in pick-and-roll defense this season, Brad Stevens knows his team will be up for the challenge. Stevens talked about sticking with predominately big lineups throughout most of the night, while mixing in small-ball to counter attack New Orleans' smaller second-unit attack.

Horford's has been the defensive anchor all season long for the Celtics, specializing in sticking with  perimeter threats off of the switch in pick-and-roll situations. His ability to succeed in that aspect has made things tough for opponents to score in bunches throughout crucial stretches -- specifically the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Baynes has been a force down low. His ability to protect the rim and create stops has made him an instant fan favorite in Boston.

Baynes has also shown the ability to defend in the paint with his back towards the basket. It's something he proved yet again in his matchup against Joel Embiid and the 76ers in London last week.

The Celtics will look to grab their seventh consecutive win on Tuesday but it won't be an easy one, it will truly test one of the best defensive teams in the league, especially Horford and Baynes -- who have the toughest assignments of the evening.

Josue Pavon

Photo used is courtesy of the Boston Herald 

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