Just because Glen Davis was listed as 'active' when the Celtics squared off against the Orlando Magic in Florida on Christmas Day didn't guarantee he'd actually find his way onto the court. As it turned out, Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett collected a few quick fouls and Doc Rivers found himself calling Davis' number. Glen played a grand total of 3:47 and collected three rebounds. Good enough. I expected next to nothing and Glen contributed three extra rebounds. Not bad.
But so began the process of integrating Glen back into the stream of things. His presence is welcome, simply because he adds more talent and depth to an already potent roster. Sometimes the transition for a player returning from a significant injury takes a somewhat lengthy amount of time. Sometimes it takes a handful of games before we realize that player is making any sort of impact whatsoever. But Davis didn't waste any time in his first stint of double-digit minutes of the season last night.
Sure, that loss to the Clippers might still sting for a number of reasons, but I was thoroughly impressed with Davis' overall performance. What was most comforting was how he basically looked like he had been playing all season. Throughout the 15 minutes he played his conditioning didn't appear to limit him, he made nice rotations on the defensive end and coupled that with some solid one-on-one defense, and he didn't appear to paralyze the offense at any point by being out of position.
Glen Davis did many of the little things last night and found a great deal of success because of it. His stats aren't overwhelming, but they were potent enough to have a clear impact on the game:
8 points, 6 rebounds (5 offensive rebounds), 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 3-4 shooting (2-2 from the free throw line)
Again, not overwhelming, but quite impressive for just his second game back and his first game with 10+ minutes of play. I was personally excited about the offensive rebounds, particularly the ones that he brought down and went right back up for easy put backs. One of these happened with 7:31 left in the second quarter and it gave Boston a 36-28 lead at the time, and another came with 10:26 left in the fourth, which gave Boston a 77-74 lead. Even more impressive was the fact that they came against Chris Kaman, a walking double-double and a guy who finished last night's game with 27 points and 12 rebounds. But besides putting the rebounds back up for points, Davis also showed intelligence and patience on a few of them, and elected to kick the ball back out so the C's could reset the offense.
While last night was a nice step for Glen, his next move should be to aim for consistency in small doses. It's unlikely he'll make a major leap over the next two or three games and suddenly be the Glen Davis of last season, but if he can take the minutes Doc gives him and provide energy and the intangibles, then he can still fill a valuable role for this team while he works his way back.
Not lost in the aftermath of Davis' solid performance last night is the fact that Shelden Williams didn't play at all. Shelden tallied just over six minutes against Orlando on Friday, but that could have been due more to the fact that Rasheed Wallace guards Dwight Howard quite well and Doc felt more inclined to keep Wallace on the floor.
But last night, with no guarantees Davis would perform well, Doc chose him over Williams. I only mention this because, again, it would have only been Davis' second game back against a Clippers team that came in averaging 11.3 offensive rebounds per game, meaning Williams' rebounding capabilities might have been valued.
With Davis returning does this mean Williams' minutes will take a hit? That remains to be seen and it's far too early into Davis' return to make a call on that. We'll probably need at least another 5-10 games to make a fair analysis on that front, but Doc always managed to find ways of splitting the minutes between Davis and Leon Powe when Powe was in town. We'll have to see if a similar strategy will be applied in this scenario.
In the meantime, let's just be glad that Davis has yet to show any true signs of rust. His performance last night was impressive. Now let's see if he can find the consistency as he works his way back.