Commentary

Davis ready to reprise role

Celtics sub gets another chance to fill in for Garnett in playoffs

Updated: April 20, 2010, 2:47 AM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

WALTHAM, Mass. -- How do you replace The Big Ticket? Glen Davis said he's got the answer in his back pocket: The Ticket Stub.

That's the nickname Davis coined for himself during last year's playoffs, when he filled in admirably for an injured Garnett. Davis averaged 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, while helping Boston get within one game of the Eastern Conference finals. (The Celtics fell to eventual conference champion Orlando in seven games in the second round.)

[+] EnlargeGlenn Davis
Elsa/Getty ImagesGlen Davis exults after getting a foul call on a key hoop that helped fuel the Celtics' Game 1 win.

While Garnett and the Celtics awaited official word from the league about whether Boston's starting forward would be suspended for his role in Saturday's Game 1 fourth-quarter melee -- the league made the one-game ban official Sunday night -- Davis said he'd be ready to once again fill Garnett's shoes.

"Well, if Kevin's out, I have to bring back the Ticket Stub," said Davis. "You all know the Ticket Stub, you all saw the Ticket Stub last year. If [Garnett is] gone, I've got the Ticket Stub right in my back pocket and I can bring it out."

It's been a while since we've seen anything resembling the Ticket Stub. As good as Davis was in last year's playoffs, he's been equally disappointing this season.

In fact, it's been one head-shaking moment after another for the third-year forward out of LSU, who missed the first 27 games of the season after the most perplexing incident of them all. Davis fractured his right thumb in a fight with a friend just days before the start of the regular season.

Ever since, Davis has continued to draw headlines for the wrong reasons. First he told ESPN the Magazine that he wanted to play professional football, then he got fined for an obscene outburst to a fan in Detroit, then he wanted to change his nickname to "Uno Uno" to deflect the criticism, and finally he got caught tugging on the injured thumb that would sideline good friend Shaquille O'Neal for the final portion of the regular season.

Amid it all, Davis has been lackluster on the court, which has served to compound his troubles. Davis averaged 6.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game this season, stats that dipped below even his second-year marks of 7 points, 4 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game.

Davis noted that the arrival of Rasheed Wallace forced him to change his role. Instead of being a perimeter jump-shooter with the second unit, Davis found himself under the basket more, trying to morph into an inside presence.

The results have been a disaster. Davis had a staggering number of shots blocked this season, topping the league at 18.3 percent of his total attempts, according to the stat site hoopdata.com, entering the final games of the season.

Davis' inability to convert second-chance efforts around the basket nearly negated all his hard work on the offensive glass. Even as he established a role as Boston's energy presence off the bench, Doc Rivers openly considered utilizing Shelden Williams in his place because of Davis' offensive struggles.

But over the final week of the season and in Game 1 against Miami, Davis has come on strong. Not only is he still attacking the offensive glass, but he's hitting the defensive boards just as hard. After grabbing more offensive caroms than defensive for much of the season, he finished with a slight edge on the defensive end for the season (104-101).

What's more, he's mixed in the 18-foot jumper, the shot that brought him so much success last season, and it's helping provide an uptick in his offense.

Even still, he remains inconsistent. Within a mere 12 seconds of checking in during Saturday's Game 1, Davis had a shot blocked. You could hear the murmurs for Williams throughout the Garden.

But Davis responded with a dazzling second half, producing a pair of monster fourth-quarter hoops to help Boston pull away from Miami en route to an 85-76 triumph.

Davis finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals over 24 minutes, drawing postgame accolades along with fellow sub Tony Allen.

Davis said he feels like he's finally catching up after being behind for much of the season.

"Some rise to the challenge, some don't, but it's playoff time," said Davis. "The three months that I took off with injuries, no matter how many games you play, you're behind. With playoff time, I feel like I've got games under my belt now. I can get back into the same groove. But I have to go out there and play with confidence."

Davis has lacked confidence at times this season. But it wasn't an issue Saturday.

With the game tied at 68, Davis took a pretty feed from Rajon Rondo and generated an old-fashioned three-point play. After drawing the foul, Davis nearly burst out of his skin in excitement as he pumped his fists walking away from the basket.

A little more than a minute later, he tipped home a Rondo miss as Boston began to pull away.

Whether it's Davis or someone else who steps up in Game 2 on Tuesday, the Celtics seemed undeterred at the prospect of not having Garnett.

"We know we can hold down the fort," Pierce said. "We're not one of those teams that, when the star player goes down, you find excuses to not play hard, to not win, or come away with a close game.

"We're a team that feels like with KG or without KG, we're supposed to win the game. That's going to be our job, our mental mindset."

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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