This team will go as far as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will take them. Period, end of story. This is true. But let me add an epilogue to that story. There will be days in the playoffs when Pierce and Garnett are cancelled out or balanced out by the other team's stars. At that point, you need the secondary players to step up and tip the scales. The Cetlics have any number of guards that could step up. They have Jeff Green who seems ready to be a bigtime X factor. But the bigs have not been counted on for much this year. That could be changing.
Shavlik Randolph has been a revelation since earning some minutes in the last few weeks. He gets after rebounds like nobody we've seen since... well, Jared Sullinger. They have different games, but a similar bent on boards that is a welcome sight. That's Shav's super power and he's going to ride that talent as far as it will take him.
You might think that Chris Wilcox (in and out of the coach's dog house all year - and maybe for the last few years) would get pushed to the background. Not so. It seems like a little competition is doing him well.
Wilcox watched from the bench as his replacement on the depth chart took a charge, grabbed two offensive boards, slammed home a dunk and made a pretty spin move for an and-one. After Randolph packed all that production into seven and a half minutes, Wilcox entered to start the second quarter. All he did was pour in eight points during the frame, as many as he'd scored in a single game since a season-high 14 on Feb. 22. He finished with 13 points (on 6-7 shooting), five rebounds, two assists and two steals. It was his second-highest scoring output of the season.
Of course we haven't even brought up the biggest shining star from last night, Brandon Bass. You know, the guy that was on top of everyone's blame board a month ago. In fact, let me rewind and look at the article that I wrote asking the fundamental question: "Is Brandon Bass good?" (this was written on March 6th)
Take a look back at last year and his PER was 14.2. The year before that (with the Magic) it was 16. So he's capable of being an average to "good" basketball player. What's the difference? Well, I think the stats back up the eyeball test. He's never been a good rebounder and he's never passed, but his shots simply aren't falling this year. He's gone from shooting 51% (FG percentage) two years ago, to 48% to a paltry 45% this year. That's the difference.
Indeed. He wasn't shooting well to that point. How has he done since then? How about 52.6% from the field (and a whopping 61.8% at home). Yup, I'm totally going to take all the credit for lighting a fire under him. You're welcome.
Seriously though, he's playing great lately. And according to him, the key has been to stop thinking so much.
"(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." The scoring barrage can now be considered a real trend, as he has posted double figures in points in 12 of his last 15 games. Bass has shot the ball at a 56.2 percent clip in that stretch, up 11 percent from the 62 previous games.
Whatever it is he's doing or not doing, I hope he keeps it up. That added dimension that he can give is huge with a capital H.
And yes, a healthy and mobile Kevin Garnett sure helps matters as well. Things could be turning out alright for the big boys at exactly the right time. They just need to keep it up into the postseason.