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Leon Davis Fills In The Gaps

baby.jpg Mike Gorman was on Celtics Stuff Live on Sunday and he dubbed the tandem of Leon Powe and Big Baby Davis "Leon Davis."  It seems fitting because over the last several games they have taken turns stepping up and filling in where needed.

Leon Powe has been on a torrid pace since Garnett's injury, averaging 11.4 points and 6.7 rebounds in only 23.3 minutes a game.  That includes one 25 point, 11 rebound effort against the Miami Heat.  He’s one of the most respected human beings on the team because of his story of overcoming adversity and he exudes a quiet determination that earned him the nickname "the Grown Man" in college.

In stark contrast is Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who overflows with emotional energy and is starting to show a flair for the dramatic.  He chose the Celtics two biggest games of the season to have the best games of his young career.  First he scored 20 points against a very tough Detroit front line (many of which came in the fourth quarter of a close game).  Next, he turned in 33 minutes of hard-nosed-disruptive defense against one of the best post players in the game in Tim Duncan.

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Both players are your prototypical undersized power forwards that fell in the draft due to concerns about their height.  Powe had injury issues and Davis had weight issues that also caused them to slip, but neither has proven to be a factor so far.  Both have used strength and hustle to excel on defense and rebounding and both have a knack for chipping in with buckets when the team needs them most.

As for the height issue, it seems as though they are both taking that in stride as well.  For one thing, they can both flat out play basketball.  Sounds simple enough, but plenty of players with the build of a traditional NBA center don't have near the amount of basketball coordination that these two have.  I love Perkins, but he's not exactly graceful on the offensive end.  Contrast that with the way Leon Powe rolls off the screen at the top of the key and finishes with a dunk.  Compare it to the way Big Baby drives baseline for a squeeze-it-in-there layup.  You never see Perk doing those things.

Of course, that's not to say we don't need Perkins.  At the end of the day we are going to need players that can defend taller centers.  Davis did an admirable job limiting Duncan, but in a 7 game series a good coach and frontcourt will find ways to take advantage of the height issue.  Still, even with Pollard out, the Leon Davis duo has quieted calls to sign a backup center.

Kevin Garnett’s injury has left a gaping hole in the team that cannot be fully filled.  Losing Perkins only compounds the issue.  However, the tandem of Leon Davis (with some help from James Posey and a sprinkling of Air Intangibles) has performed well enough to patch up that hole for the time being.

That bodes well for the stretch run and the playoffs, because you never know when injuries, foul trouble, or matchups will dictate a need to play one or the other of these guys.  They have proven their worth now and will be counted on in the future.

Note: It seems great minds think alike since the Globe and Herald also have articles on the bench and in particular Leon and Big Baby.

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