For a coach that is notoriously hard on his players, (unless you’re Jason Terry) that’s some pretty high praise about the effort from Brandon Bass in Game 1. The numbers didn’t jump off the page, but that praise from Doc was warranted. Bass grabbed 10 rebounds in 32 minutes of action, grabbing 28 percent of all defensive rebounds available while he was on the floor. That was the top mark on the Celtics for the afternoon.
When he wasn’t grabbing rebounds, Bass was doing a stellar job defending Carmelo Anthony on the perimeter and in the post, forcing Melo into some tough shots. Anthony made some of those shots, but they weren’t easy. There were few, if any defensive lapses in pick-and-roll coverages and rotations. To be honest, you couldn’t have asked much more from Bass.
Yet, when you look at Brandon’s Game 1 performance, it’s hard to think it was anything close to perfect. Why is that? Look at the points column. Bass took only two shots on the night and scored four points. That certainly wasn’t Brandon’s fault at all, and yet it was a fatal flaw in the Celtics’ offense in Game 1. Moving forward, the C’s need to find a way to get the ball to one of their most efficient offensive weapons in Mr. Bass.
Let’s take a look at how uninvolved Bass was in the C’s half court offense in Game 1. He took both of his shots in the first quarter, and they both came on second chance opportunities. For the final three quarters of the game? Bass didn’t even come close to attempting one.
After reviewing the game video, Bass touched the ball plenty on offense, but never in spots where he could be effective. He fed the ball to Pierce and Jeff Green on the perimeter beyond the 3-point line, he performed a few handoffs, but then moved out of the way to help spread the floor pretty much all of the time. He was rarely involved in pick-and-rolls, and since the ball movement was non-existent in the second half, Bass never got the open looks he’s been routinely making.
Now Doc jokes about the fact that the team never runs a play for Bass and I’m not advocating that here for the future. The team should run their halfcourt offense through KG, Pierce, and Green first. For the past two months though, Bass has been one of the team’s most efficient offensive weapons. He averaged 13.7 points per game in April, he’s been shooting 56 percent from the field in the last two months. In a refreshing twist to his game, he’s not only hitting his mid-range jumpers better than anyone on the team, he’s mixed it up and taken the ball to the hoop as well.
As we all know, the second half of Game 1 was a disaster offensively. Just 25 points and countless turnovers over the final 24 minutes. Little attacking of the basket, just lots of jump shots from Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry.
Given the fact the Knicks go small, and are trapping KG and Pierce plenty, Rivers and his staff have to make a point to find Bass more touches in spots where he can be an offensive threat. Whether that’s including him in the pick and roll, or just getting back to good ball movement, it needs to happen if this team wants to keep pace with the Knicks in Game 2. There were several instances when a smaller player like Felton or Shumpert was guarding Bass and the team didn’t even look in his direction.
The knock on Brandon has always been his defense and if he keeps up his effort there, the C’s will be thrilled moving forward. Now they need to turn to one of their most reliable (and hot-shooting) offensive weapons. Looking around the team, KG could still be bothered by his foot, Pierce doesn’t need to be taking 20 shots a game, and Bradley can’t finish at the rim unless he’s wide open. Oh, and the bench can’t hit an open jumper.
For the past two months, Bass has been hitting those open jumpers more than anyone on this team. It’s time to give him a chance when it counts. Then maybe, just maybe, he’ll be as perfect as the one and only Mr. Perfect was.