Baynes thrives in Celtics leadership role

Peter Mitchell, AAP US Correspondent

Aron Baynes is flourishing as one of the old hands on a Boston Celtics squad full of young guns.

The Celtics crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers in Sunday's NBA eastern conference opener 108-83 and can take a 2-0 lead with a win in game two in Boston (10.30am AEST Wednesday).

Baynes, the 31-year-old Queenslander, has been using the experience he gleaned from being part of the 2014 San Antonio Spurs' championship-winning team to help guide an injury-ravaged Celtics squad relying on the talented but inexperienced Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier.

"He has been a great leader," Celtics coach Brad Stevens, asked about Baynes, told reporters.

"He's been an anchor defensively.

"Whenever we've needed him to step up offensively, he has done that."

Baynes spent the first three years of his NBA career largely on the Spurs' bench but was a sponge soaking up the tutelage of coach Gregg Popovich and All-Stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

"I was able to learn a lot from some great players - Tim (Duncan), Tony (Parker), Manu (Ginobili) and Boris (Diaw)," Baynes said.

"The list is quite long."

The Cavaliers are tipped to promote veteran big man Tristan Thompson to their starting line-up after Baynes, Al Horford and Marcus Morris physically dominated in game one.

The Cavs relied on a small starting line-up of guards Kyle Korver, JR Smith and George Hill alongside LeBron James and Kevin Love in the series opener.

It was a disaster with the Celtics never headed after jumping to a 29-9 lead in the first quarter.

Korver, Smith and Hill scored a combined 14 points for the game, Love was outplayed by Baynes and Horford while Morris lived up to his pre-game talk of his ability to defend James.

The Cavs superstar scored just 15 points, well below the 34 points per game he has averaged in this season's playoffs.

Thompson came off the bench for a game-high 11 rebounds, including four offensive and outscored his three starting guards with eight points.

"They played better than us in game one so we look to redeem ourselves tonight," James said.