Monday, January 23, 2012
3-on-3: Celtics vs. Magic (Game 16 of 66)
By Chris Forsberg
AP Photo/Rich PedroncelliBig Baby's back in town as the Boston Celtics (6-9, 4-5 home) host Glen Davis and the Orlando Magic (11-4, 5-2 away) at the TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). We go 3-on-3 with ESPN Boston's Greg Payne and CelticsHub's Brian Robb to preview the matchup:
Glen Davis is back in Boston Monday night with the Orlando Magic.
1. 1. Do the Boston Celtics miss Glen Davis?
Payne: Yes and no. I know that's a cop-out, but clearly Brandon Bass has excelled since joining the C's and he's masked the hole that Davis otherwise would have left. I think the Celtics do miss him somewhat on the defensive end though. He took charges and his low center of gravity made him an asset against the Dwight Howards of the world. Still, Bass' production has left a lot of fans thinking, 'Big Baby who?'
Robb: They certainly miss the Glen Davis of November to February from last season. That guy was a legitimate sixth-man contender, and an asset on both ends of the floor to the point that any team would have loved to have him coming off the bench. The guy that showed up over the rest of the year and the playoffs? Good riddance. The reassuring thing for C's fans is that Big Baby's play in Orlando this year has resembled more of the latter period than the former, and his replacement in Bass has outplayed him considerably over the first four weeks. The fact of the matter is, behind the scenes, Baby's act had seemingly become a bit tiring for those in the locker room, and a change of scenery was probably the best remedy for everyone involved.
Forsberg: Yes, they miss him, but Bass is making it extremely hard to remember why. So the book on Bass when he arrived was that he was an upgrade offensively, but was a step backwards on defense. That's been somewhat true, though Bass has been both far better as both a rebounder and a man-on-man defender than we originally imagined. He's still learning the team's help defense philosophies and has been late on rotations, but his consistent offensive contributions afford him more patience on the defensive side (where his one-on-one numbers remain spectacular). The Celtics do miss Baby's charge-taking, but Jermaine O'Neal seems inspired to pick up the slack there. The one thing Boston will need time to replace is Baby's chemistry with the Big Four, something that allowed him to log big minutes with that group, including in crunch time.
2. Should Big Baby get a video tribute Monday?
Payne: That's a tough one, but I'm going to say no. I don't think Davis was here for long enough to warrant a tribute, even though he did leave Celtics fans with many memories. Part of the reason Kendrick Perkins got one was because of his many years with the club, and Davis didn't come close to touching that longevity.
Robb: Despite any ill will that may linger from both sides, I still feel like Davis deserves something. He was a productive member of that 2008 Championship squad, and carried the C's to another Finals win alongside Nate Robinson against the Lakers in 2010. Are we talking about a Perk-sized tribute here? Absolutely not. Some kind of acknowledgement, however brief, would suffice and help further the C's reputation as a classy organization when it comes to former players.
Forsberg: Absolutely. Sure, Davis wasn't a monster contributor to that 2007-08 title team, at least not in the Finals, where he appeared in only one game (playing 15 minutes in that lopsided and clinching Game 6 at TD Garden). But he was a consistent presence during his four seasons in Boston, ramping up to a starter-like role as the first big off the bench last season. When Garnett went down during the 2008-09 playoffs, it was the Ticket Stub that stepped up. Davis also aided the run to the 2010 Finals. He deserves a tribute like the other members of that 2008 team. Though, it'd be even better if they played his "It's the fourth quarter!" crowd pump-up video or maybe him singing Kesha's TiK ToK.
3. Are you surprised by Von Wafer's contributions?
Payne: Not really. I don't think there was ever that much of a question about Wafer's ability to score the ball. He just wasn't in a great position to get consistent minutes in Boston with guys like Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in front of him. I'm sure Wafer's grown more comfortable knowing he'll see action every night and that's probably given him more confidence to be assertive on the offensive end.
Robb: Not at all. Wafer is a guy I have always really liked as a player, and feel like he never really got a real opportunity here in Boston due to a variety of factors (injuries, depth chart, etc.) The guy is a natural scorer, can get to the rim and shoot from the outside. He is the kind of player the C's I thought could have definitely held on to this year to help their depth off the bench. Alas, I'm happy for him he's worked his way into the rotation in Orlando.
Forsberg: Maybe a little bit and here's a few reasons why: 1) Wafer is shooting a ridiculous 46.7 percent from beyond the 3-point stripe (7 of 15 overall). He was atrocious at trifectas in Boston, connecting on a mere 26.9 percent (18 of 67 overall), but something about that Magic offense makes everyone a triples threat, 2) Wafer is shooting 47.8 percent from the floor, while chipping in 6.2 points over 13.6 minutes per game (he shot 42.1 percent, while averaging just 3.2 points in 9.5 minutes per game in Boston), and 3) His defense has been excellent. According to Synergy Sports data, he grades out in the 94th percentile, allowing a mere 0.625 points per play. That's some quality all-around contributions from Wafer. Alas, much like Davis, the contributions and focus might simply have never aligned in Boston.