Davis, Celtics not wanting for desire
BOSTON -- There's no official metric for it and there likely never will be. But there's an unspoken statistical category in the NBA some have dubbed "WIM," an abbreviation of "Wants it more."
This is WIM in a nutshell: A ball springs off the rim directly above two players. Both have an equal shot at it -- athletic prowess notwithstanding -- but only one player can come down with it.
The player who gets it? That's a tick in the WIM column. And it's no surprise that there's a strong correlation between WIMs and wins.
From Rajon Rondo lunging through the legs of Jason Williams while forcing one of the most spectacular steals of the season to Glen Davis willing himself to every available offensive rebound to an unrelenting defense that made every necessary rotation for a full 48 minutes, the Celtics clearly wanted it more than the Magic. The result: a 94-71 triumph at TD Garden.
The Celtics lead the series 3-0. There's no arguing their dominance thus far. Simply put, they've wanted it more than Orlando since the opening tip last Sunday.
"We want it, we know we want it," said Davis, the unlikely source of a game-high 17 points in 24 minutes off the bench. Davis paced six Boston players in double figures, connecting on 5-of-9 shots, while adding six rebounds, half of which were of the offensive variety.
"We remind ourselves we want it," Davis said. "Every day we have banners [in the Celtics' practice facility], we see banners and we want another banner. That's what it's all about."
After an eye-opening postseason while starting in place of Kevin Garnett last year, Davis has struggled at times during the 2009-10 campaign. Yet Orlando, as it did last postseason, brings the best out of him.
Davis scored 10 second-quarter points Saturday, grabbing two offensive rebounds in the period. The Magic never cut their deficit lower than 14 after that thanks in large part to Davis' hustle.
His WIMs helped leave Orlando a broken team.
"Everybody knows [when the Celtics want it more], you don't need to say it," Davis said. "We all want it. We've just got to go out there and physically take it."
Emphasis on physically. In Game 2, Davis provided a spark by taking a pair of charges, once enduring a knee in the sternum in order to force a turnover and a huge momentum swing.
In that same game, Garnett pump-faked a defender and went strong to the basket. Instead of stepping up and taking the charge, Rashard Lewis made a feeble swat at the ball as Garnett delivered a thunderous one-handed jam.
Davis didn't know his role earlier this season after missing the start of the year because of a thumb injury and with the Celtics having acquired Rasheed Wallace. Davis figured it out along the way and his role is predicated on energy and desire -- two of the key assets necessary to thrive in the WIM category.
While Davis remains frustratingly inconsistent at times, he's often able to offset those nights when he doesn't fill up the box score by doing things that don't appear in the final stat lines.
"My role is just being an energy guy, making sure that I play defense, get rebounds," Davis said. "[Coach Doc Rivers] lets me, offensively, do what I want to do -- hit the open jump shot, play in the post. But at the same time he makes me still remember my role and what I am capable of doing.
"I am capable of setting a great pick. You realize if you set a great pick, you are going to be open because your man is going to guard [the other player] and that's your shot. So just playing to my role, doing what I need to do, and realizing what I am capable of doing."
That wasn't always obvious to Davis, who struggled to regain the form he displayed in last year's postseason. Once he realized he couldn't be that same player this year, he thrived.
"I think the thing that I figured out that, being a young player, being on a team that is so loaded, you have to find your role and play your role to the max," Davis said. "I just bought into what Doc was saying, bought into what the team was saying, and just making sure that I am there for my teammates. That's all that is."
Not even Rivers can explain the inconsistencies, but he'll take Davis' ability to step up on a big stage.
"He's comfortable in big games for whatever reason," Rivers said. "Who knows why? But we know that and we like it. He's not in awe of the moment at all.
"And he's been great off the bench for us. He's ready to come in if [Kendrick Perkins] or Kevin gets in foul trouble. We're asking him to guard all kinds of positions. Guarding Dwight Howard and then going out and guarding Rashard Lewis in the same game is very difficult, and he's doing both. He's been great for us."
Asked about Boston's defensive effort in Game 3, Davis admitted he doesn't get too caught up in the statistics.
That's a good thing. Although there's no way to measure WIM, he may well be leading Boston in it this postseason.
Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CELTICS-MAGIC
GAME 6: CELTICS 96, MAGIC 84
GAME 5: MAGIC 113, CELTICS 92
GAME 4: MAGIC 96, CELTICS 92
GAME 3: CELTICS 94, MAGIC 71
GAME 2: CELTICS 95, MAGIC 92
GAME 1: CELTICS 92, MAGIC 88
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