Celtics News: Aron Baynes Had Encouraging Ankle Injury MRI; Could Play Sunday

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 11: Aron Baynes of the Boston Celtics stands during warm ups prior to a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on March 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
Cassy Athena/Getty Images

Boston Celtics big man Aron Baynes may return to the lineup as early as Sunday's game against the San Antonio Spurs, the team announced Friday. 

Baynes suffered an ankle sprain in Wednesday's 118-115 defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics confirmed he has undergone an MRI on the injured ankle that delivered an "encouraging" result.

Baynes is only averaging 5.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 14.7 minutes on the floor, but his rim protection is vital for the Celtics.

According to NBA.com, Boston has a 99.7 defensive rating with Baynes on the court. When he goes to the bench, the team's defensive rating climbs to 106.6. The 32-year-old New Zealand native is also holding opponents to a respectable 56.6 percent on shots inside six feet, per NBA.com.

Having Baynes healthy will be particularly important in the playoffs as the Celtics look to win the Eastern Conference.

His presence inside will help to Boston match up with its toughest rivals in the postseason, whether it's Giannis Antetokounmpo's drives to the basket for the Milwaukee Bucks, Joel Embiid's post game for the Philadelphia 76ers or the pair of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol on the Toronto Raptors.

Whether Baynes plays Sunday or not, the fact he should be at 100 percent for the start of the postseason is a big sigh of relief for the Celtics.