Jason Terry was the undisputed hero in overtime. Paul Pierce led the team in scoring with 29 and Jeff Green added 26 points. Kevin Garnett did what he does on defense and added 17 critical rebounds. Yet the guy that was picked out as the star of the game" only scored 4 points, only grabbed 4 rebounds, and fouled out of the game in regulation.
"Brandon was the star of the game, as far as I'm concerned," Rivers said. "He just defended and did it over and over and over again. There's a lot of guys that you want to defend; I don't know if Carmelo would be the one you would pick. And for Brandon to do that, basically the entire game until he fouled out, was terrific for us."
Brandon Bass has made himself a decent overall defender (he's had to in order to start for Doc Rivers), but it has never been what he's been known for. Yet there he was, guarding one of the league's elite scorers and doing an exceptional job at it.
"We won the game because of him," Avery Bradley said of Bass’ defense for 31 minutes before fouling out in the fourth quarter. "All credit to him." Coach Doc Rivers made the switch back to a bigger lineup to get Bass matched up against Anthony, allowing Jeff Green and Paul Pierce to focus more on igniting a stagnant offensive attack. Anthony finished with 36 points, but it came with a 10-for-35 effort from the floor (28.5 percent).
I think one key for Bass was simplifying his role. The Celtics have a very complicated blend of man-to-man and zone defense - even within the same play. So the players need to communicate and think on their feet (while moving their feet in front of the man). I'm not scout, but I get the feeling that Brandon might struggle at times with where to be next and as a result is a half step slow on the rotations.
Clearly the rotations were still in place, but more often than not he was able to stay at home on Melo and stick on him like glue. It helps that the Knicks run a lot of isolation plays for Anthony. It also helped, of course, that J.R. Smith wasn't on the court to give the Knicks another creative offensive weapon.
Carmelo is a lethal combination of big and quick and as a result he's a matchup nightmare for many guys. It just turns out that Bass is just as big and quick enough to stay in front of Melo often enough to slow him down or force him into an off balance shot. That was his job yesteraday and he did it exceedingly well.
Nobody is expecting Bass to "shut down" Melo for an extended period of time. But making him work and forcing him to take a lot of difficult contested shots is the first and most important part of the Doc's gameplan and Bass delivered. So hats off to him.