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Glen Davis acknowledges starting affected him mentally

01.20.11 at 4:56 pm ET

While Kevin Garnett was out with a calf injury, the Celtics went 6-3 with Glen Davis in the starting lineup. He had some terrific games in that role, notably a 23-point effort against the Spurs and 15-11-8 line against the Raptors.

But it wasn’t all good for Davis who struggled with his outside shot. He made only 21-of-66 shots from 16-23 feet during his nine starts and also struggled to replace Garnett as a rebounder, getting a little more than four boards a game. Davis acknowledged Thursday after the team’s practice that the shift in roles affected him mentally.

“It’€™s all mental,” he said. “I was kind too hard on myself when I was starting. I wanted to prove to Doc [Rivers] and prove to my teammates … The difference between that and the playoffs is I just went and played. That’€™s what I do when I come off the bench, I just go out and play. I put a lot of pressure on myself.  I got out of myself and tried to be something [else]. That’€™s now how it works. You have to be yourself. I had a couple of good games, but as far as all-around games, the way I know I can play, I didn’€™t bring it. Now being on the bench you get back to the same mentality.”

Davis has excelled in his role as sixth man. In a recent online poll of basketball writers, Davis was listed on everyone’s ballot for Sixth Man of the Year consideration after the first half of the season. As a sixth man, Davis is able to not only backup Garnett, but also play important fourth quarter minutes at center. He has also made significant improvements in a number of areas, notably finishing at the rim.

Last season Davis shot barely over 50 percent inside and had his shot blocked at a whopping rate of 18 percent — the highest rate in the league for players playing meaningful minutes.

“I had a stat that I really didn’€™t like: the most blocked shots in the NBA,” Davis said. “You don’€™t like those type of stats. You find a way to get it done. That’€™s my mentality. Just find a way to get it done.”

And he found a way to do it. This season Davis is shooting more inside, and finishing better, than he has in his career, and he has cut his shot-blocked rate by more than half, down to a more reasonable 7.5 percent.

“Just slow down,” Davis said when asked about the adjustments he’s made. “Most of the time when you get an offensive rebound you want to hurry up and go ahead and put it back up. If you look at the rim and find the rim, you go straight up because they’€™re waiting for you. They just don’€™t know when you’€™re going to go up.”

While Davis slides back into a more comfortable role — and the one that also suits him best — he is still driven by the same forces that have always motivated him. The slights and the doubts ring loud in his head.

“I always have to prove myself,” he said. “I’€™m an undersized power forward. Everybody knows me as the overweight guy. People think I’€™m too big. A lot of negative things about me. I always have the motivation when I play. In spite of what other people say.”

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