Brandon Bass has been only slightly less than awesome this season. He’s just the type of young and athletic player the Celtics have been looking for the past couple of years, so it’s not hard to understand why he’s the go-to big off the bench. The C’s can count on him for a consistent and effectual spot start and Q5M sub for Kevin Garnett.
This is part of the reason why I was so surprised when Bass missed the Grizzlies game last week with a knee injury. Here’s Doc Rivers explaining Bass’ absence:
“I actually think it’s just the accumulation of the games. He had some swelling in it, so we’re just going to sit him.”
Pretty innocuous, although it seems a little strange that Bass would miss a biggish game against a good Western Conference team (despite the terrible record) to rest a minor injury with the Bobcats on deck. As we now know, Bass was back on the floor on Tuesday and looked no worse for wear.
Well, almost no worse for wear. There was a moment in the first quarter where Bass completely blew a defensive rotation and Paul Pierce used all of his teeth to chew him out. I wanted to ask both of them after the game about the play and about Brandon’s progression as a team defender but then Pierce had to go and break a record. Apparently, no one wants to talk about the minutiae of team defense when someone scores 21,797 for his career…
But I am obviously in the minority. I’m probably also in the minority when it comes to trying to
over-interpret what Doc meant when he said, “it’s just the accumulation of the games.” If Bass had a knee injury, he had a knee injury. What I can’t shake is that usually we know about all injuries, even little nagging ones. We didn’t get any indication Bass was playing through something until we found out he was scratched. That, plus the fact that this little respite came after two straight games where Bass let his emotions get the best of him.
First, in the Celtics blowout win against Toronto Bass got pulled to the ground by his jersey while trying to get a defensive board. While on the ground, Bass showed his displeasure by grabbing the legs of the puller (Amir Johnson) before realizing that no one has ever looked tough holding on to someone’s ankles. I asked Brandon about this play after the game and he gave a great response:
It’s really hard to keep your cool when you get hit midair, which is a big part of why I wanted to check in with Bass about this play (and also because big dudes get hit a lot and being a big dude by normal people’s standards, I can sympathize with Bass).
I took his answer and was satisfied. It’s nice to get perspective from a guy who bangs downlow night in and night out. But then Bass broke my heart by getting a technical in his very next game against the Knicks after he chest bumped Amar’e Stoudemire. I felt betrayed. Where was the levelheadedness of the guy in the video? Each of these are most-likely isolated incidents, but when you factor in the day off for knee swelling for the very next game it makes you think.
Despite the previous 600 words, I’m not trying to make something out of nothing. I swear. This is more of a “something to keep in the back of your mind” as you continue to watch Bass for the rest of the season. Furthermore, I asked Eddy Rivera of MagicBasketball about Bass and he relayed that Bass “definitely has his flaws. As a person, though, he’s a stand-up dude.” So I defer to Eddy’s expertise as he covered Bass for a lot longer than I have been. I will agree that our locker room encounters have been nothing but pleasant. And even if the missed game was just a chance for Bass to get collected -to rest, to get his nose in the playbook- that’s not such a bad thing.
It’ll be interesting to watch the big man rotation going forward. Kevin Garnett continues to play like it’s 2005. Chris Wilcox has proved to be a consistent energy player off the bench, something the Celtics have lacked for the past couple of years. And we’ll keep hearing about JaJuan Johnson’s garbage time dominance as he continues to languish on the bench.
Then there’s also the little rumor going around that the Celtics are looking to add to their already crowded front court. I wouldn’t read too much into that.