What it means to have Nutty Professor Glen Davis back
|03.14.11 at 9:12 am ET|
Glen Davis looked the part of a teacher at an institute of higher learning following his return to the Celtics Sunday night after a four-game absence.
And while it was only a four-games, the Celtics could feel the loss of their nutty professor in their lineup. They beat Golden State and Milwaukee but fell very flat against the Clippers and Sixers. As a matter of fact, one could easily make the argument that he is the single-most important bench player of any of the favored teams to win the NBA title.
The Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks, Bulls and Heat all have star-studded players among their starting five but none of them have Big Baby. He can come off the bench and provide an instant jolt of energy to the reserves and this is precisely why Doc Rivers wants to keep him coming off the bench come April, May and hopefully, June.
But Sunday, it was all about getting acquainted with some players he’d never played with or had just seen in practice. There was no more ‘Shrek-ing’ with Nate Robinson. He has been replaced with Carlos Arroyo. Davis has played just three games with the troika of Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy.
“First half, I felt a little weird a little bit,” Davis said. “I didn’t remember anybody on the team. Nate? Carlos?”
And what about that No. 77, Sasha Pavlovic? Davis was wondering how to pronounce his name, let alone learn his game.
“I knew his name but I couldn’t pronounce it so I didn’t call him anything,” Davis said. “Just, ‘What’s up?’ and ‘hey.’”
Sunday night was clearly an example of shaking off the rust as he played just 18 minutes, going 3-for-6 from the floor with seven rebounds and nine points, with all nine coming in the fourth quarter.
“I saw a guy that needs to run more,” Rivers said. “He did well. He played with a lot of patience offensively and he let the ball come to him instead of hunting it down and that’s how we should play all the time. He just needs the minutes. He was starting to get his legs. I asked him how he felt and he said he felt great, except he can’t feel his lungs anymore.”
He missed a lay-up 90 seconds into the fourth as he had flashbacks to the Heat game on Feb. 13 when he went up on the wrong foot and missed a dunk. This time he missed the layup but 90 seconds later he was pounded by Jon Brockman and finally felt like he was back. More importantly, his knee felt OK with the contact.
“I was kind of trying to feeling it out,” Davis said. “I felt it a little bit more when I missed my first layup I was like, ‘Oh!’ I was trying to jump. I felt it but I didn’t feel it. But then when Brockman hit me, I felt like, ‘OK, you’re back.’”
No one means more to their bench than Glen Davis to the Celtics and here’s why:
First, after Krstic, the Celtics – as Rivers was all too willing to point out – had really no one to play the center position.
“Right now, we just needed another big. Jeff and Troy are smalls who play the big spot at times,” Rivers said. “We needed a third big in a desperate way and with Baby coming back, that helps us.”
Second, Davis makes the Celtics a far tougher team down low and will do all of the dirty work under the glass to allow Kevin Garnett to roam, block shots and play defense further from the basket.
“It was good to have him,” Paul Pierce said. “You get a guy back who understands what we are doing out there for the most part. He’s really familiar. We are constantly trying to figure out sets once we sub with the newer guys so their still learning the plays. It was good to have some familiarity in the lineup coming off of the bench with Glen playing with the first unit.
“He’s a strong guy, he’s hard to move down there down on the block. He isn’t the tallest guy, doesn’t have the most length, but he’s a guy who can push guys off the block and get them out of position and keep them off of the rebounds. It’s just another dimension that we add to the ball club and it’s good to keep getting pieces back.”
And finally, Davis is a very underrated offensive presence, something the Celtics have benefited from in the playoffs over the last several years. He was nearly the difference last year in the finals against the Lakers when Kendrick Perkins went down in Game 6. He picked up some of the slack in Game 7 before hurting his own knee – a left knee that still hasn’t fully healed.
Does he expect to play with soreness the rest of this season?
“Most definitely. But I’m just going to keep chugging along and hopefully in June, it’ll be all well worth it,” Davis said.