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Daily Babble: Pugnacious Papoose Plays the Ultimate Intangibles Game

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For at least the second time this season, the Big Baby came through with a huge effort in a game against a perennial title contender yesterday.   When the Celts took down the Pistons in Detroit back in early January, however, the Infuriated Infant's impact was at least largely demonstrated through the box score courtesy of his big scoring effort.

But as many fans are no doubt aware, as announcers mentioned, and as Jeff has already noted in brief, yesterday's effort by Glen Davis doesn't even come close to being encapsulated within a box score. 

Really, that tends to be the case with most of his contributions, as he has been an energy guy from day one with this team.  But after one of the gutsiest and most well-played wins for this team that I can remember watching over the next decade, the already beloved youngster who made it all come together on defense against the defending champs has earned just a few lines more of attention in this space.

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What Glen Davis did yesterday was simply incredible and is certainly belied by the 22 points and 14 rebounds Tim Duncan put up on 10-of-20 shooting.  Yes, Duncan's numbers were very good.  But the neophyte from Louisiana State prevented one of the greatest players of this generation from truly killing the Celtics by making Duncan's day a lot tougher than the numbers would indicate.

The Baby made Duncan work all day.  He made him work to get position in the post by using that 289-pound frame to body him out of the paint and off to the wings as much as he possibly could.  He made him work once he had the basketball by using the strength from that frame to keep forcing Duncan away from the basket and by coming out to challenge just about every shot with a hand up.  Similarly, the Infant had his hands up as much as possible, doing everything he could to cut off the passing lanes to cutters that Duncan has learned to use with stunning deftness.

Tim Duncan had to work to get the ball, and he had to work once he had it, largely courtesy of Glen Davis.  This led both to a more stagnant Spurs offense than usual (because Duncan needed more time to work with the ball in his hands) and a lot of shots that looked very laborious for the Big Fundamental.  He missed short several times as a result both of Davis pushing him out and using his arms to force Duncan to try and shoot over him.   Furthermore, Davis occasionally alternated his positioning techniques while Duncan was setting up in the post, which led to him nabbing a couple of his three steals courtesy of sneaking around to either front or three-quarter TD just as the ball was being thrown into the post.

Because of Big Baby's presence, Tim Duncan spent a good portion of the game playing either further away from the basket than he would have liked or in far more traffic than he wanted to be playing in.  Because Big Baby managed to do a reasonable job on Tim Duncan in single coverage, the Celtics didn't have to cheat additional defenders toward TD quite as much as they may have expected to, and as a result, they were (with a few exceptions) able to do a very good job of getting out to shooters on the perimeter to challenge and close out on long jumpers.

On top of all that, it certainly didn't hurt that Davis managed to pull down a few big rebounds in traffic and knock down two big lay-ups to go with a 3-of-5 performance from the foul line.  Or that the emotion he played with all day pumped the crowd and his teammates into a frenzy throughout the ballgame.

But it was that effort on number 21 in black and silver that will stand out over all else in looking back at an excellent regular season win on Sunday.  The individual numbers will never show it, but Big Baby Davis frustrated Tim Duncan.  The Tim Duncan.  Arguably the best player of the last decade.  Frustrated him just enough to allow the Celtics to beat TD's Spurs for just the second time in 19 tries and the first time in a decade in Boston.

The Pugnacious Papoose did all those cliched 'little things' exactly as they are meant to be done yesterday afternoon.

No box score will ever show it.   And it doesn't matter one bit.