Commentary

Off bench, Davis leads the charge

Rising to challenge once again, Baby proves his big game is no fluke

Updated: April 28, 2010, 12:58 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- When coach Doc Rivers spotted third-year forward Glen Davis at the Celtics' practice facility before Tuesday's Game 5, he greeted him with wide-eyed excitement and asked where he'd been. A bit perplexed, Davis said he'd been at the training facility all morning.

"Funny, I haven't seen you since Game 2," jabbed Rivers.

Davis, who totaled a mere six points (on just one shot) and five rebounds in Games 3 and 4 -- this after posting 23 points and eight rebounds in a spot start for Kevin Garnett in Game 2 -- knew his coach was trying to motivate him.

But Rivers wasn't done.

[+] EnlargeGlen Davis
Elsa/Getty ImagesGlen Davis keeps the ball away from the Heat's Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers in Game 5 Tuesday night.

Later, when Davis went to leave for the afternoon, he popped his head back into his coach's office to say goodbye. This time Rivers had a musical pop quiz.

"I'm walking out and I thought the day was over with, but [Rivers] is sitting down eating his lunch and he's like, 'Hey, Baby, do you know who Milli Vanilli is?'" recalled Davis. "I was like, 'Yeah, the lip-synchers.' And Doc was like, 'Yeah, but they were also one-hit wonders. Just think about it.'

"I left and I'm thinking, 'OK, he's trying to get me going.' Doc has his ways of motivating people."

The tactics worked. Davis responded in Tuesday's Game 5 by logging seven points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals over 24 minutes, 29 seconds of action; he also took one very important charge as the Celtics eliminated the Heat from their Eastern Conference first-round series with a 96-86 triumph at the TD Garden.

Davis' outing can't be quantified by the stats alone. With Boston desperate for someone to aid a starting five heavy on minutes, Davis logged more time than the other three bench players combined (Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen and Michael Finley) and nearly as much time as starter Kendrick Perkins.

"I like a challenge," said Davis. "[Rivers] wanted to make sure I was focused and prepared. He challenged me to go out there and have a good game."

But that wasn't the only challenge Davis stepped up to Tuesday night.

"He took a charge on [Dwyane Wade]," said Rivers, describing a key series in which Davis made a monster three-point play at one end of the floor to keep the Heat at bay after they had rallied within four with 9:29 to play, and then drew the offensive foul on a driving Wade at the other end.

"One of the things I said at halftime was we would like to see one guy take a charge on Dwyane Wade in this series. I don't know if you noticed when he took the charge, but [Davis] was pointing at the [Celtics'] bench. It was good to see him play hard and have fun."

Davis smiled as he recalled picking himself up off the ground with the Garden going wild. He said he didn't point at the bench, but simply made eye contact with his coach on his way back up court.

Davis Right place, right time -- that's my role. That's what I do. I'm not a shot-blocker. I'm not [Rajon] Rondo who steals the ball. I'm a role guy who takes charges and uses his body on defense.

-- Celtics forward Glen Davis

"I look at [Rivers] like, 'Gotcha!'" said Davis. "Just to let him know. I got up and ran down and just made eye contact. Right place, right time -- that's my role. That's what I do. I'm not a shot-blocker. I'm not [Rajon] Rondo who steals the ball. I'm a role guy who takes charges and uses his body on defense."

Davis said his eyes lit up when Rivers made the initial challenge at halftime. He spent a lengthy session with the media before the game talking about the art of taking charges and knew he'd be the one to make the defensive play.

"When [Rivers] called [the charge challenge at halftime], I already knew I was going to get it," said Davis. "I'm the only player that thinks about taking charges every time on defense. I was going to wait for the right moment. I knew he was going to go to the rim and I knew I was going to get it. It was just a matter of time."

After the game, both Rivers and the Big Three heaped praise on Davis, but also noted further room for growth.

"Glen has been a big part of our winning," said Garnett. "He's a spark plug off the bench. I've often said the future of this team is going to be how the young guys progress. I thought he did just that; I thought he did a great job taking care of his health. He was very fit to come in here and play big minutes. He's been a very hard worker and it showed in his efforts when he plays."

Added Rivers: "He's just gotta stay [at his high level of play]. We tell all our players: You don't need a parade out there every good game. You just got to continue to play. And then your body will work when it's all said and done. Then you can have the festivities. And that's Baby in a nutshell.

"He is so talented and his IQ is ridiculous. It really is. But he lets up at times. He starts thinking about what he's done well, instead of just keep playing. He's a young kid still. That's the maturity part that is growing. I think it's getting better and better. He has proven over the long haul that, in big games, he tends to play well. He did it in college and he's done it here."

Truth be told, Milli Vanilli enjoyed three No. 1 hits and two others that climbed into the top five on the Billboard music charts.

But Davis said he wasn't about to go blare "Blame It on the Rain" or "Girl You Know It's True" on his drive home. He doesn't want to be remembered as a one-hit wonder.

"No, I'm going to let that one go," said Davis. "I'm going to have multiple hits."

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

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

  • Beyond Baseball
    It will be an emotional two days at Fenway as the Sox mark Marathon Monday.
  • Bouncing Back
    The Bruins took it to the Red Wings in Game 2, knotting up their series.
  • Spirited Return
    Boston's runners and citizens are ready to take back their marathon.
  • Setting The Tone
    As usual, Tom Brady will be front and center when voluntary workouts begin.
  • Wouldn't Miss It
    Meb Keflezighi and Ryan Hall lead an elite American field at the Boston Marathon.

ALSO SEE

MORE NBA HEADLINES