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Your New Crunch Time Big Man: Glen Davis?

 

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.

  • zebulon

    Really solid article, definitely an interesting revelation. I thought Baby would close the game, but not play the last 11 minutes ostensibly as a center. But against Miami his lack of size vs centers wasn't an issue (why would they post up their C when they could run plays for Lebron, Dwade, or Bosh) and he really did contribute on offense.

    I only have one issue with your article: You say "He is capable of stretching the floor even more than Jermaine O’Neal can with his outside jumper" but don't back up that statement. For his career, Jermaine is a significantly better jumpshooter than baby. At the moment, he looks injured and lost in our offense, but in terms of actual shooting ability, Jermaine is way ahead of Baby.

  • http://twitter.com/M_DeVelaine @M_DeVelaine

    In a way, it's funny to talk about BBD stretching the floor. A lot of other people I've seen would say that there's no reason to guard Davis away from the basket, even out to 15 feet where he's still good. Do they not watch enough C's games? Have they been in a coma since the before the '09 playoffs?

  • Alex

    Look, I love Baby (I even went out an bought his jersey after he won that game against Orlando 2 years ago), but his performance last night had a lot more to do with Miami's flaws than his abilities. Zebulon already pointed out how Miami covered for Baby's flaws on defense, so I'll just add that on offense he getting away with stuff that he never would against a better/bigger defensive team. Time and time again, he got the ball in the low post, and rather than smothering him, Miami either gave him room to pass or let him fight his way into a layup. Against better defenders, Baby gets stuffed all the time, but I'm not even sure if Miami blocked him once.

    • Ouvert

      It's going to be interesting to see what he's capable of doing with a full season of good health.

      I do agree with you, though, that there a few times last night where I thought, wow, there is no way he gets that shot off against the Lakers or if Dwight Howard's nearby. But maybe he's learned to be better about mixing up his inside and outside game, to make it harder to block him.

      Gonna be interesting to see where his ceiling is.

      • BABY

        Did you not watch the final's last year? In game four he had 18 points against the lakers. No that's not going to happen every night but that isn't what they are looking for in Baby. He comes in and brings energy to the team in crucial moments.

        • Alex

          Yeah, but from what I remember, he seemed to have to work a lot harder for those points than he did against Miami.

          Against the Lakers, I remember him getting stuffed over and over, but still finding a way to grab the ball back and get it in on the second effort. Last night he seemed to be able to pass at will or drive in for a layup. As Ouvert said, maybe he's just gotten much better at this, but I don't remember the Lakers ever giving him as much room as he got last night.

  • Jason

    Sorry to high-jack, but do you think Scott Skiles' single-game assists record (30) is in jeopardy this year? How many bunnies did Shaq miss? Rondo had 14 assists mid-way through the 3rd. I mean what does he end up doing against a below average defense?

  • Ben

    I bet this has a lot more to do with the fact that Miami probably did not have a classic 5 out there during most of the fourth quarter either. The big Z looks to have come out early in the 4th and while I don’t have exact lineups, from the play-by-play it looks like they were playing Lebron,Wade,Bosh,Jones, and Haslem for most of the 4th.

  • Jason

    Sorry again, but is the Hub bringing back the game efficiency stats? I love seeing:

    Offensive efficiency: 110 pts/100 possessions (top 5)
    Defensive efficiency: 80 pts/100 possessions (beyond elite)

    Also, just want to make another plea for a breakdown of the C's new "Trips Right" offense set.

    Looking forward to both posts. They're why the Hub is my preferred basketball blog by far.

    • http://CelticsHub.com Brendan Jackson

      The stats don't mean much now considering there have only been three games played and video takes time. Both will be back so do not fret.

  • KY Celts fan

    You also have to figure that Miami’s crunch time bigs are Bosh and Haslem, whom KG and Baby match up very well with. When we play the Lakers whose crunch bigs are Pau and Odom, I think we’ll more likely see JO out there.

  • joe

    Totally unrelated, but i'm very worried about our team. Wade & bosh played about as bad as they can play, particularly wade, and we only put this one away in the final minutes. It kinda reminds of how we lost to CLE (defending conference champ) & DET(consensus best team in the east that year according to the experts/haters) in our first encounters with them. I'm very worried about our team. MIA looks to be real scary this year.

    • KY Celts fan

      It’s game 1, man. Save the worries for after All-Star break. Remember we didn’t have D-West and Perk won’t be ready for a while. The Heat is loaded with talent, so a run had to be expected. But they aren’t going win playoff series playing clear-out basketball. Enjoy the W, buddy.

  • John (in Lakersland)

    Maybe Doc sensed the Heats were going to implement hack-a-shaq. Who knows? All I know is that if Fatty is the Celts' go-to big in crunch time, they should forfeit the rest of the season.

    Keep in mind, Celts played against Joel Anthony (??? no idea who that was until last night). Let's see if Davis is effective against smooth moving bigs like Gasol, Dirk, Duncan, Amare, Boozer, etc.

    Someone pointed it out before, Bosh played one of his worst games of his career. I wouldn't count on that when Celts travel to Miami.

  • NHBluesMan

    unrelated side note… is the league cracking down on post-game attire? i felt like all the players being interviewed were in suits last night

  • CelticsBub

    From what we saw last night, it looks like he might finally be maturing from that "Baby" nickname. If he can continue filling this crucial role for the team then Shaq and Big J can work 20-25 minutes a game and keep fresh for what should be a long season ahead. This could be huge and make our front court even that much more dominant throughout the season.
    But, I think Marquis is the real key here, especially if pierce keeps throwing his body in front of 18-wheelers like Lebron every night. The wear and tear will have a significant effect and if there is a legitimate #2 then Pierce can cutback his minutes and the team will still be effective defensively.
    Look for Quis to find even a shade of his 08-09 form and give the Celts 10-12 quality minutes a night.

    • Morpheus

      Nah BBD will always be known as Baby,always.

  • Morpheus

    Absolutely gotta love just gotta love Pierce's determination and cahones he displayed last night.Who in their right mind would try to take a charge,stand in the way of the LeBron freight train.I don't think anyone in this league has done that before let alone even thought about it.PP was the MVP last night,what a competitor he is.

    • zebulon

      Baby drew a charge on Lebron earlier in the game.

      • Morpheus

        Yeah but LeBron at full speed on a fastbreak

  • koolaid

    baby's been absolutely great so far. he almost kept them in the game single-handedly down the stretch tonight. he's earning those minutes. maybe i was a bit harsh thinking he couldn't expand his game. his game is weird in that he excels in most matchups, but then is terrible in others (long springy bigs).

    but thats the beauty of this team, they can play any matchup. doc will work it out. i expect to see more JO in the 4th if he ever gets in shape. not much of shaq. i also think delonte will end up with a lot of rondo's crunchtime minutes. can't believe our trusted end-of-game lineup might be?

    kg, pierce, allen, delonte, baby (with JO in against longer centers)

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