They were Plan B when there isn't always a Plan B. They were supposed to play only about a minute. Then a minute more, then a minute more according to Paul Pierce. With 2:51 left in the game, the A-team finally went back in with an 8 point lead neatly gift wrapped for them.
The B Team did more than their job and Glen Davis led the way with his scoring and energy. Nate Robinson played a big part, too. So did Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen, and Ray Allen. But it was a coming out party of sorts for Glen Davis.
I’ve been waiting a long time to write this story. I knew it would come. I just didn’t know when. I was sure it would be too much to hope for in this year’s Finals. Just as many people have been wrong about Glen Davis, I underestimated him. He even surprised me.
Glen Davis just led the Celtics to a critical NBA Finals win to tie the series at 2 games apiece. He scored 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting, 4 of 4 from the foul line, ripped down 5 rebounds (4 offensive) and added 2 key steals. Dominating is not a word you normally use to describe Glen Davis’ game. But he was close to dominating in the doing of it all. ‘Impactful’ would be an understatement.
With Andrew Bynum out with a troubled knee and Rasheed Wallace occupying Pau Gasol’s attention, Glen Davis made the most of it and there wasn’t much Lamar Odom could do about it.
Glen didn’t get his shot blocked once and he did most of his damage around the rim. He led the second unit’s surge of scoring with 9 game breaking points on 4 of 5 shooting in the 4th quarter. And he generally played solid defense along the way. All that in 22 and a half minutes.
By the time Davis scored his 17 and 18th points on free throws with 3:57 left in the game the ‘B’ Cs, plus Ray Allen, had outscored the Lakers by 25-12 to lead 85-74. The Celtics had breathing room after struggling for air the whole game.
That charge by the second unit brought life to a Celtic team that was struggling to score and was down by 2 heading into the 4th quarter. When the starters returned the Celtics were up 7 points and had been up as much as 11 points in that quarter. They not only gave the starters some much needed rest, their young legs held the Lakers in check while they outscored them with big shot after big shot.
How effective was Glen Davis and the Cs B-team? Just ask Lamar Odom (from the Orange County Register Blog)…
"Very effective, especially Glen Davis. He found open spots. He doesn’t just do it half court, he beats you off the ball, second effort, off the pick-and-roll, they do a great job of finding him."
Though his role has changed this season, Glen Davis is a role player assigned to a limited role. Rebound. Set picks. Play defense. Set more picks. Go back up with offensive rebounds underneath, but only if you think you see some daylight. Pass it back out otherwise. And set more picks. Important picks to get shooters like Ray Allen and Paul Pierce free. Picks to get Rondo free to drive. Play solid position defense.
After being asked to score on ‘court opening’ weak side jump shots last season, Davis has had to put his inner scorer on an extreme diet this season. This team has a plethora of big time scorers and new comer Rasheed Wallace took the spot-up shooter role Glen had last season.
Celtic Big Man has Huge Game
The Boston Celtics’ starting 5 were struggling all night just to keep up with the Lakers. In this must win game, the best they could do was a 62-60 two point deficit at the 3rd quarter break. The starters play was gritty and energetic, especially defensively, but hardly inspiring. Scoring was difficult to come by with missed open shot after missed open shot.
Glen Davis and Nate Robinson gave an inkling of what was to come in short minutes in the first half. Davis scored 7 points, with 2 boards and 2 steals, while Nate added 6 more points on two three pointers. Little did they know they would lead the Celtics comeback. But they were ready.
After missing his first two shots, including a fast break lay-up, Davis amped up his game and ripped through the Lakers to go 7 of 8 the rest of the way. He found first life with a tip in of a missed Rasheed Wallace shot, put in an ‘and 1’ layup with solid contact underneath and hit a jump shot that bounced around the rim and dropped in.
The Celtics, especially Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett were struggling offensively, missing multiple lay-ups and open jump shots. The team actually looked tight and on their way to a very possible defeat. The Lakers were looking and playing confidently.
Once Davis and the second unit tied it up at 62 all on Davis’ quarter opening reverse lay-up and then went ahead 66-64 on a Nate Robinson assisted Davis lay-up. All of Davis’ baskets were around the rim in the final quarter.
Once it was established that Glen would be back as a Celtic this season, I knew that some day I would write about Glen Davis being the key to a big win. It can’t get too much bigger than the penultimate elimination game, and tying the series up, can it?
To many Celtic fans, Glen Davis is defined more by what he can’t do than what he can. As an atypical NBA power forward Glen is not a shot blocker, and this season he was getting his own shot blocked underneath enough to raise anyone’s eyebrows.
Block Party Over?
Let it be noted that since game 3 of the Miami series, except for a 4 block game against the Lakers, Davis has been blocked only 8 times total in 18 playoff games.
Glen Davis is a big man with a personality some have called charismatic, others call comedic, and others call something else. He has God given instinctive talent and skills for basketball that belie a man his size. It seems to be that comedic personality that throws people off. Glen Davis can really play this game. Light hearted public demeanor aside, he takes the game very seriously.
With a growing knack for coming up big in big games, this has to qualify as a major step forward in Glen Davis’ career.
Many will point out that it was the absence of Andrew Bynum for the Lakers that played a big part in Davis’ success in this game. They will be correct. But I’ll take it a step further and say that, if allowed to develop it, Glen Davis has the potential to be an even more versatile scorer than you saw last night.
The Future of Glen Davis?
One day we may see Davis’ jump shot of 2008-09 return, a fade away jumper polished up and, if Doc will allow it without belittling it, a running jump hook thrown in. With only 9 assists in 22 playoff games, you wouldn’t know it, but Davis can be a pretty good passer when he wants to be.
Lamar Odom already knows he will spin on you in a heartbeat and head to the rim. If he learns to use his body as skillfully as he did last night, he will become even more effective around the rim in spite of his height disadvantage.
Though some taller players can shoot over him, he is a space eater defensively and is tough to move around. Lamar Odom is a difficult match up himself and did ‘out quick’ him a few times in the 4th quarter.
Expect Andrew Bynum to return to plug that hole in the Lakers’ defense on Sunday, if his knee will allow. In the meantime, Glen Davis had one of the biggest games of his career and there wasn’t anything the Lakers could do about it.
A fan of Davis? Absolutely. Concerned about his development at times? Of course.
Davis won’t always have big offensive games like that, but he will always give you everything he has to give. On this night it helped the Celtics win a Finals playoff game.
Rasheed Wallace, Nate Robinson, and Tony Allen all played big. But none played bigger than Glen Davis.