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Brandon Bass has been testing my patience for four games now. With the Celtics owning the 3-1 advantage over the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, it seems hard to find spots to nit pick. However this is one of growing concern not just for the immediate future, but the slightly more distant future as well.

During last night's game, after watching the Celtics starting PF pass up yet another elbow jumper (note. Bass' bread and butter), my father turned to me and said, "I'm starting to worry that Bass doesn't have that extra level that Big Baby always did."

That illustrated perfectly what I had been feeling about Bass during this post season. I had been thinking he was just slumping, but in reality my subconscious was comparing him to the man we swapped for him. The man trying valiantly to keep the Orlando Magic's season alive in the wake of Dwight Howard bailing.

Big Baby was frustrating to the point of tearing your hair out on occasion while in Boston. When Danny Ainge packaged him up and sent him down to Florida in return for Brandon Bass, everyone was excited. "We fleeced them," everyone shouted. The Glen Davis era in Boston had run its course. Throughout the regular season Bass performed outstandingly, erasing all the Shrek and Donkey  memories of the once beloved number 11.

I wrote before the season that I would miss the Big Baby era in Boston, and we would eventually look back at it fondly like an old girlfriend with a questionable body, but incredibly fun and amiable personality. Now though, I'm afraid we dumped the fun party girl and started dating a hotter version that uses Friday nights to study for a test the following Wednesday.

Brandon Bass is safe. There is nothing wrong with that but a word came to mind after my dad made that comment last night: "Flair." Big Baby has flair, Brandon Bass doesn't appear to. When it comes to the playoffs, there are certain players who can ratchet their game up a notch. In the 2008-09 playoffs with Kevin Garnett sidelined, Big Baby poured in 16ppg and helped the Celtics outlast Chicago and nearly topple Orlando. Does anyone feel that Bass could step up like that should KG get hurt? (furiously pounding my knuckles on this wood desk)

It hasn't appeared so through four contests. Bass has been passive in every game, showing a lack of confidence in that elbow jumper he hit with incredible frequency all season. He has been virtually a no-show. He isn't a rookie acting gun shy on a big stage. Bass has 630 playoff minutes spread over 32 games under his belt.

The Celtics had supremely talented player a few years back, I'm not sure if you'd remember him. He showed great promise on occasions but had a tendency to disappear when the lights got their brightest. He was labelled overrated, a player who couldn't perform in the clutch. The scary part is, Bass knows who that player is. He has faced up with him in this series after switches on pick and rolls. I hope when he checks Joe Johnson on the perimeter, Bass isn't looking into a career mirror.

After averaging a 13-6 during the regular season, Bass' production has dropped to 8pts and 5 boards. He is shooting just 41% from the field against Atlanta. What this tells me more than anything is that Bass may not be as good as we once thought. He has been severely outplayed by Josh Smith in this series. This is worrisome for the immediate future; should Boston advance he will be matching up with either Carlos Boozer or Elton Brand, both quality power forwards in the next round.

Bass' defense was never advertised to be his strong suit, so one just has to hope that Josh Smith is playing the best basketball of his career. Brand and Boozer are talented offensive players who must be contained and that will be Bass' responsibility.

In the more distant future; during the Celtics late season run, I was imagining Bass' as big piece of the future. For all the age talk the Celtics get, three of their five starters are 27-years-old or younger. Bass, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley were giving you hope for beyond this Summer. Now I am not so sure about Bass.

This is my first go-round with Brandon Bass and I'm struggling with my expectations. Big Baby gobbled up expectations like the pasta line at the LSU dining hall. Maybe I'm just experiencing Graduation Goggles with Big Baby. Maybe tomorrow night Brandon will swat a Jeff Teague layup and let out a Wilhelm Scream worthy of a Spielberg film and we can move on.

If this run goes as deep as we all hope it does, there are going to be games where Pierce and Garnett struggle or are too banged up to log big minutes. There will be games were Rondo's passes aren't clicking precisely and Ray Allen's threes aren't falling.

I know what Glen Davis would do in that situation. Hell, he is doing it right now down in the outskirts of Disney World (20ppg, 9.5rb). What will Brandon Bass do when it comes time to unleash the slobber-spewing holler of a man so possessed by winning, his mind goes blank? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Walsh 5/07/2012 03:00:00 PM Edit
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