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Oh Baby! C’s win in Marbury’s debut

 

Celtics 104, Pacers 99

A five-point home win over a mediocre Indiana team missing two of their best players generally wouldn’t be something to write home about.

However after a week’s worth of speculation regarding the debut in green of one of the NBA’s most controversial characters, it proved to be a big night in Beantown.

And despite an impressive debut for number 8, (more on him later) Stephon Marbury’s performance did not steal the show for the evening. Instead, it was the play of Glen Davis that caught my eye.

I have had a very tumultuous relationship with Big Baby this year. He has been up and down year for Baby as he has been attempting to add a shooting facet to his game. Last night was clearly one of the ups as he delivered one of his best performances of the season on the offensive end, finishing with 18 points.

The point total wasn’t the thrilling part of his game for me. Instead it was Davis’ willingness to adapt his shot selection during the contest that allowed him to become an effective weapon for the Celts down the stretch. Let me explain.

Rewind back to Wednesday Night for a second. Davis played extremely well during the Clippers game. He made five straight jumpers from all over the floor during the first three quarters and looked to be firing on all cylinders.

Therefore when he took and missed a sixth jumper in the final moments of the close game, no one could fault him for that. He was hot all night and it was a shot everyone could live with.

Last night was a different story as it was clear Baby’s jumper was not falling from the onset of this contest. He missed the first three jumpers he took in the opening frame. Baby fought through it initially and ended up having a decent night overall with his jumper, hitting and missing a few more over the middle quarters before sitting at the start of the fourth.

When he reentered the game with six minutes remaining, he proceeded to miss an open 20 foot jumper almost immediately. Most nights this miss would not dissuade the big fellow from continuing to shoot but something seemed to change his thinking. Baby appeared to realize that the jumper wasn’t “on” and adjusted his game accordingly.

Davis remained a pivotal player in the surprisingly stagnant offensive 4th quarter by the starters once they returned to the game. The group almost fumbled away a double digit lead with bad shots and turnovers in the final few minutes.

Davis remained active with the offense however and helped stabilize the troops with his play on two possessions down the stretch when the Celtic lead had dropped to 3. Let’s take a closer look at these possessions.

(1:31) Paul Pierce is dribbling on the perimeter at the top of the key. Baby sets a strong pick allowing Pierce to go left on the outside of the lane towards the hoop drawing three Indiana defenders. Instead of popping out after the pick, Davis rolls strong to the hoop with Pierce and The Truth makes a great pass to reward Davis who finishes with a layup and draws the foul. This play stops Indiana’s 6-0 run and opens up a 6 point Boston lead.

(0:44) Kendrick Perkins passes to an open Davis at right elbow with time expiring on the shot clock. Baby squares up for the jumper but headfakes to shake the Indiana defender running at him. He drives to the lane and throws up a 10 foot floater shot that doesn’t look pretty but gets the roll and goes down. Celtics once again go up by 6.

As a Celtics fan, these developments were a great sign for the maturation of Baby’s game. Doc Rivers had been encouraging the power forward to take his jump shot and develop it all season long without any sign of hesitation.

The thing I despised about this progress was that when Big Baby added the jump shot, he appeared to forget about what made him such an effective NBA player in the first place; being a force down low. These plays last night reminded me that Baby could still play this way.

Overall this performance shows me Davis is on his way in finding a equilibrium for both parts of his game. Once he fully achieves this, he becomes an incredibly dangerous and versatile power forward and a huge asset for this Celtics team off the bench down the line.

Doc Rivers appeared to understand this reality long ago that Baby needed to add the jump shot as a part to his game to truly reach his ceiling as a player. He has been willing to deal with the growing pains on the floor that go along with it for the former LSU star. This patience which I and many other Celtic fans have lacked with the shot is a sign to me of a great coach that knows how to manage a team both for the present and the future.

Thoughts on Marbury after the jump.

Marbury Watch

Stephon Marbury silenced his critics for one night while having as a good of a Celtics debut as anyone could have imagined. He was incredibly rusty on the defensive end which had to be expected but he looked a lot better in his second stint on the floor in the 4th quarter. Marbury looked anything but rusty on the offense as he worked his way into the team’s sets almost flawlessly, making some nice passes and taking what came to him within the flow of the game.

In hitting two open jumpers and two layups on strong moves to the hoop, Marbury immediately exhibited the added threats he brings to the Celtic bench unit with his play. His offensive talents sustained the Celtics run in the start of the fourth that help extended the C’s lead to 13 points early on in the quarter.

On top of all this Starbury served as the perfect teammate off the floor. It was comical to watch the CSN cameras cut to him repeatedly in the early going, sitting on the bench next to the Celtics coaches, looking engaged while trying to dissect plays with those around him. A good show to be sure. We will see if it lasts.

Other Observations

  • 17 Assists for Rajon Rondo through 3 quarters tied his career high. Yet 0 assists in a very quiet 4th quarter for the 3rd year pro. Didn’t shoot and attack the rim enough overall but hard to get upset at that kind of distribution combined with only one turnover on the evening. The point guard is truly a one of a kind player.
  • The Celtics as a team played a mediocre game at best and were disturbingly sloppy in the final minute of the game as they nursed a slim lead. Their lob passing nearly resulted in an Indiana steal with 30 seconds remaining and Paul Pierce seemed to be thinking about his plans after the game when he failed to catch a deflected rebound under the Boston hoop with 15 seconds left. It was an alarming sequence that could have allowed a more talented team to escape Boston with a win.
  • Leon Powe and Big Baby have both rarely been on in the same game this year. When they are though it is simply a joy to watch. Last night was one of those nights as Powe provided a spark off the bench with 14 points and 6 boards.
  • Pierce gutted out a solid game with 17 points on 6/13 shooting but that thumb bears watching. Once KG gets back it wouldn’t surprise me to see him Rivers rest him more to try to make sure it doesn’t bother him as much during the playoffs as those kinds of finger injuries tend to linger.
  • Ray Allen continues to have one of the best seasons of his career with another 30 point performance. He and Marbury seemed to click immediately upon playing together so that should be a fun group to watch in the coming weeks.
  • It is incredibly exciting to think about the possibilities Starbury creates for this team once it gets fully healthy. The next four months should make for a fun ride with this crew.
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