Quick pop quiz. How many minutes did Shaquille O’Neal play in the fourth quarter of the C’s opener? What’s that you say? Five? Three? Try zero. Zero minutes. The recipient of nearly all those crucial fourth quarter minutes? None other than Glen Davis.
It was late last week when the thought of this possibility first popped into my mind. Who plays down the stretch of games, I asked myself. Jermaine O’Neal was banged up with injuries all over his veteran statuesque frame. Shaquille O’Neal was well still a 38 year old new addition with major liabilities on both ends of the floor.
Meanwhile, Doc Rivers had spent multiple times this preseason talking about this new lineup he wanted to try. With Glen Davis and Kevin Garnett on the floor he figured, the C’s could really spread the floor. The thought had creeped into my head….could Big Baby be first in line with crunch time minutes with KG?
The potential KG-Big Baby duo hadn’t really been a possibility last year, with Baby’s thumb injury along with the presence of the perimeter “threat” in Rasheed Wallace. This year though with a couple new veteran bigs, a sidelined Kendrick Perkins, and a retired Rasheed Wallace out of the way, the door was wide open for Glen Davis to make his presence felt when it mattered most. And boy did he ever.
Davis’ full game line was impressive in itself, hitting six of seven shots for 13 points, but his fourth quarter was even better going, 3 of 3 from the field, scoring from both inside and out and adding a charge to boot in 11 plus minutes of action.
Doc Rivers was quick to praise Baby postgame, but was not going to get ahead of himself, acknowledging Davis was benefiting while the others learned,
“”Baby was terrific, right now, he’s the fifth guy because he knows a lot of our stuff. JO [Jermaine O’Neal] and Shaq will get theirs [minutes], but we’ve got to make sure we milk Baby until then.”
Big Baby himself was relishing in the moment and the journey it took him to gain the opportunity postgame:
“When you grow up and see yourself in the NBA, you dream of moments like that,” Davis continued. “It feels good. I understand what I’m here for. I’m here to sacrifice myself. When you sacrifice yourself, great things happen at the end.
“This is my fourth year,” he added. “It’s like I’m ready for graduation. You play the game. You learn the system. You have to get to a comfort zone. I’m working hard to get there.”
This brings me to my real question though. Even when both O’Neals “learn” the system, is Glen Davis still your best option at a big when the game is hanging in the balance?
There’s no doubt Davis has his limitations in his game and stature, but the guy knows the system, is healthy, in a contract year, and knows what Doc wants out of him. He is capable of stretching the floor even more than Jermaine O’Neal can with his outside jumper.
“It’s time to play consistent for a whole year,” Davis said. “Be a professional.”
Will Big Baby be given that chance for the rest of the year? I’m liking his chances and think the possibility could work out very well for both sides.