The game turned in the 3rd quarter. At the 4:49 mark, Brad Stevens subbed Aron Baynes in for Daniel Theis after MIL jumped out to a 17-14 start in the quarter. Stevens went on record saying that Theis got the start so Baynes would match up with Greg Monroe, who was +9 in in 17 minutes when the teams played on 10/18/17.
Most times, when coaches make an adjustment, it’s reactive. Which is only partially true with Stevens. Yes, he reacted to MIL’s lineup and tweaked his own. But the early substitution of Baynes in the 3rd quarter was a proactive move, and one of genius. Maker went 1-3 from 3PT range and had an assist to Middleton for another 3PT. MIL increased the lead to 7 with Maker being an integral part of the run.
Maker had to defend Baynes, which is an obvious weight class difference for the two big men. Two completely different styles of play. MIL took advantage of the space Maker created, getting those 3PT looks or getting Giannis the ball at the elbow on a favorable switch. Baynes’ presence changed all of that.
Baynes moving to the 5, enabled Horford to get loose on the perimeter and and got a monster screen setter rolling to the rim. At 3:47 Kyrie uses Baynes to get downhill and collapse the defense (sorry for the low-quality screen shot). All 5 MIL defenders are in the paint and you’ll notice you can only see 2 BOS players. Those legs you see in the top left are Horford’s as he spaces to the corner:
At 3:48, Kyrie has already made the key pass to Smart on the perimeter. He’s wide open, the defense has to react in some manner. Maker takes Smart, Giannis is battling Baynes, not wanting to give up a layup. What’s even more impressive is that Middleton started the possession defending Smart on a post up, the timing of Smart setting a flare for Horford was impeccable as Kyrie was heading downhill off the screen and Middleton had to protect the rim. After Smart screens for Horford, which Maker played well, he’s as open as you can be. Giannis should rotate out to the next pass, but he’s held in place by a crafty Baynes, conceding an open shot for Horford from the corner:
MIL comes down and gets a great look for Delly from 3PT off a Giannis drive:
Delly misses this attempt. BOS comes down and runs a Kyrie/Baynes P&R in the exact same spot. Smart sets the same flare screen. Horford goes to the same corner. Kyrie drives middle and Middleton is in a bind again:
Horford knocks this one down. Timeout MIL, and Teletovic and Monroe come in for Maker and Giannis (yikes). MIL’s offense grinds to a halt as they feed Monroe. But the momentum was gone. MIL had bent to what BOS’s will. Check Mate, Stevens.