A couple weeks ago, after another disappointing post-season performance by Brandon Bass I wrote this story here on CelticsLife.
He had not shown much passion during the opening round of the playoffs against Atlanta and in the following games against Philadelphia his lackluster play continued. Then the third quarter of game five happened last night.
Bass proved me wrong, he did have that fire in him that we saw from Glen Davis multiple times in the playoffs. He finally won the Celtics a big game with a 9-13, 27-point performance that included an 18-point third quarter that was more dominant than anything I have ever seen Bass do.
As aggravating as it is when he bricks the open 15-footer that he hit all season, he didn't do that last night. As mind numbing as it is to watch when he decides he needs to coil the springs in his legs before dunking it giving Spencer Hawes time to recover (a la Kendrick Perkins), he went strong to the rim in the third quarter and dunked through multiple bodies without ducking first.
He was strong and vocal, he hit open shots and slammed home dunks in traffic. But most of all, he was exactly what the Celtics needed when they needed it.
Everyone knows the playoffs are a grind and all teams are banged up and fighting through their own issues. Stars just simply aren't enough in rounds two and three. Sure, a star can take over in the Finals like Dirk Nowitzki did last year, but these dog-day middle rounds are a game to game war. Each night belongs to a player or two, and last night was Brandon Bass'.
Looking back at each of the Celtics' wins this post-season, every game seems to belong to a player.
Round One vs. Atlanta Hawks
Game Two: Paul Pierce 36pts 14rb
Game Three: Rajon Rondo 17pts 14rb 12ast
Game Four: Rajon Rondo 20pts 16ast 1to
Game Six: Kevin Garnett 28pts 14rb 5blk
Round Two vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Game One: Kevin Garnett 29pts 11rb 3blk
Game Three: Paul Pierce 24pts 12rb 11-14FT
Game Five: Brandon Bass 27pts 18 in 3rd qtr
Players and coaches can preach about team basketball and team wins all they want. You still need one player to rise above the rest to win a playoff game. Because the Celtics are banged up you have seen games speckled in here and there like a seven-point Pierce outing or a nine-point, seven turnover line from Garnett. Even what is scarily becoming a regularity, five-point Ray Allen showing. Maybe a disinterested Rondo trying to turn a playoff game into a pick-up match at Harvard during the lockout leaves the team desperate for a pick-me-up.
Teams need a background player to step-up even for just one game. Up until last night, Bass hadn't given this team anything out of the ordinary in the post-season. In that third quarter though, he joined a pretty special group of guys who have spent time in green recently.
P.J. Brown shot 4-4 and scored ten to go along with six boards in
a decisive Game Seven win over Lebron James' Cavaliers in the '08 Playoffs.
James Posey nailed four threes and scored 18 points in a Game Four win over the Lakers in the Finals. That night Rondo had just five-points and a pair of assists. Later in that same series, Leon Powe got to the line 13 times and scored 21 points in just 14 minutes in a Game Two victory. That night Garnett struggled mightily from the field, shooting 36%.
I don't have to continue to harp on Big Baby's value in the '09 playoffs where he averaged 16 and 6. In the 2010 Finals, he went 7-10 from the field for 18 points in a huge Game Four win when the Celtics were down 2-1. Even guys like Eddie House and Nate Robinson have won the Big Three playoff games in the past.
The bottom line is you need a game or two every post-season from a player like Brandon Bass and I'm pleased to see he chose last night's all-important contest to do it. Also, just so you can't say I'm neglecting him. Greg Stiemsma finally made his mark on the 2012 Playoffs last night as well with a very P.J. Brownian 5-5, 10pt night.
Will Bass' number be called again tomorrow? Probably not. He got them the 3-2 edge in the series and it will be up to the stars to close out Philadelphia. Should they advance though, Bass will likely need to win a quarter or a half in the Eastern Conference Finals against David West or (possibly) Chris Bosh.
2011 graduate of Marist College.
Won the 2011 Silver Fox Award for Best Feature-Length Screenplay, for Our Father.
Currently I am the voice of the Worcester Wildcats of the New England Football League.
My writing style focuses on sports in a broader culture-wide sense. I incorporate humor and real life into my sports writing.
You can find more about me at www.WideWorldofWalsh.com