There are a lot of great story-lines out of yesterday's game that all deserve attention. Paul Pierce was once again The Truth, Kevin Garnett was once again fierce, Ray Allen was once again money, and Rondo was once again totally in control of the game. Kendrick Perkins got some measure of revenge in his return to the scene of his greatest frustration and Nate Robinson even broke out of his shooting slump at a very opportune time. I'm not trying to take any of that for granted, but I did want to give some love to Big Baby and his performance.
His numbers don't jump off the page and it wasn't his best game statistically, but maybe that is what made it even better. We've come to expect this from Big Baby. This kind of solid, all around game has become the norm, not the exception. Sure, there are times when Doc strains his last vocal cord because of something Baby does, but those are coming less and less often.
In fact, the following thought occurred to me that really made me grin: Big Baby might be the James Posey type piece of the puzzle we've been missing since 2008. The comparison isn't perfect, but he brings a lot to the table that Posey did in the title run. In Baby you get a valuable difference maker off the bench who gets under opponents' skins with defensive effort and a knack for stepping up big in big moments. He doesn't have three point range (please, no Antoine flashbacks) but he can hit the open jumper to stretch the defense and create space for his teammates.
Posey had a knack for hitting a dagger three pointer right when the other team was making a run to pull within a couple of points. They weren't game-winners per se, but they were back breakers. Big Baby's version of that is the charge. Think about how frustrating it is for a player like Kobe to pull the full weight of his team on his shoulders, slice through the defense, jump, hang, gague the shot, absorb the contact, and release at just the right time to get the call and shot. Except he didn't notice that Baby's feet were set outside the no-charge zone, so all of it was for naught and he has just picked up a foul in the process. In a word, that's deflating.
Big Baby, like Posey before him, was doing all the little things the team needed him to do to win the game. There he was spinning around Bynum and putting the ball up just under his arm for two points and the foul (a year ago he would have up-faked 3 times and gotten blocked by three Lakers). There he was setting a knock-you-over pick on Steve Blake that freed up Ray Allen for another 3. And of course there he was taking another one of his league-leading charges in the 4th quarter. And his defense isn't all about falling down either. He moves his feet and plays Doc's defensive system as well as you could ask him to.
He isn't going to steal many headlines on a team of future Hall of Famers, but he's the kind of guy that could mean the difference between frustration and elation in June. For a guy that wasn't exactly clear about his role in the preseason, he sure has established himself as an integral part of our team.
Oh, and just in case you didn't have that Katy Perry song stuck in your head...
"Baby you're a firework
Come on slet your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em fallin' down-own-own"
Seemed to fit well.