It had been a tough season for Brandon Bass. After finding some stability in Boston, one of the first times in his career he’s had it, by signing a three-year extension this summer, expectations were understandably high. Celtics fans wanted to see the guy who averaged 12.5 points per game, make some strides and continue to improve the Celtics’ offense this season.
Instead, it’s been a far bumpier ride during year two. Bass struggled mightily for much of the first three months of the season. His shot was off, a lot. He wasn’t taking as many within the rhythm of the offense. His rebounding continued to be inadequate as well and his tendency to get lost on the defensive end was a clear contributing factor in the Celtics’ slow start. His minutes dropped accordingly and we were left to wonder if we’d see last year’s Bass again.
A slump though is all it appears to have been. Quietly in the last couple months, Bass has risen his level of play, giving the Celtics a much-needed boost on the offensive end, while holding his own on the defensive end most nights. His consistency has allowed the Celtics to survive injuries and even win a couple games for the team nearly by himself (which he did with his hot 9-of-12 shooting Sunday night).
So what’s been the difference for Bass? It’s simpler than you might think.
“It’s just being clutter-free mentally,” Bass said. “You just try not to think so much and just go out there and play and give it maximum effort.
“You want to play well. Being that you want to play well, over thinking gets in the way some times.”
Keep it simple, stupid. It’s a great motto to have in all walks of live, especially on the basketball floor. The numbers back it up. Bass has scored in double figures in 12 of the past 15 games, is averaging 16 points per game in April and has shot 56 percent from the field since March. These stats haven’t been lost on other members of the C’s:
Paul Pierce on the improved play of Bass: “Well I mean you know he’s comfortable in everything hes doing. You know the thing about Brandon is we don’t run a lot of plays but he seems to always be in the right spots, available, taking advantage of his opportunies to move the ball, and that’s what you’re seeing.”
Pierce on how encouraging is it to see Bass playing better approaching playoffs: “Its good to be playing the best basketball at the right time, and right now is the right time going into the playoffs for some guys to get their confidence going and start having some big games. That’s gonna be huge for us if he continues to play well going into the playoffs, and the great thing about it is he’s doing it all off of the hustle plays and off of ball movement. When you can do things like that without a play being called for you…that’s beautiful.”
KG on Bass: “I thought Brandon was in a nice rhythm – picked and choosed. I thought he was very aggressive, took his shots, was very poised. Defensively he was talkative. The consistency is the thing I always like to always point out. So we can make sure consistently we don’t just do it for a game or against Washington but against everybody else. That’s what we’re trying to get to. But so far so good.”
Doc on Bass playing better: “I think he’s been for a while, too, and I really think it started for him on the other end. Like I said the other day. But you know, listen, with Kevin (Garnett) especially, and with Jeff (Green), he’s just making open shots. 9-for12, he’s just efficient, you still want him to rebound, we want the whole team to rebound more. But overall I think he’s playing terrific. I think he’s in a wonderful place right now.”
Three seals of approval, all crucial heading into the playoff run. Bass is just as much of a wildcard as anyone else on the roster when it comes to how far the C’s can go this postseason. If he continues to play this well, the Celtics become an even tougher draw for anyone come next week.