Commentary

Garnett-less Celtics roll behind Big Baby

Updated: April 21, 2010, 9:58 AM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN.com

Glen Davis Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesDoc Rivers chose to start Davis because of his foot speed. Davis made his coach look like a genius.

BOSTON -- This just in from Danny Ainge's basement: Kevin Garnett was vocal and animated while watching the game with a few buddies on Ainge's sofa, but Garnett didn't break any furniture and he kept the decibel level low enough to avoid waking his 2-year-old daughter.

Which means only one thing went wrong for the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night: Paul Pierce guessed incorrectly afterward when he said Garnett "probably hit his head on the ceiling a couple of times."

If that crashing of cranium and plaster had actually happened, there's no doubt it would have been violent enough to awake not only Garnett's daughter, nicknamed "Peanut," but probably a few of the Ainge children, too.

Instead, peaceful slumber was all Garnett's toddler, Kapri, experienced as she slept upstairs while KG and some buddies retreated to Ainge's man cave to watch Boston's 106-77 destruction of Miami in Game 2 of their first-round series.

"He has a lot of energy watching a game, I'll tell you that. It's fun," Ainge told ESPN.com. "He was up like he always is, very positive, talking all the time. And he was very excited for Baby.

"I had watched a game at his house, but he had never done it here, and we were down in the basement, so I don't think he woke her up," Ainge said.

Garnett is known as Big Ticket, and Baby is half of the nickname Glen Davis prefers the least. Davis would rather be known as Ticket Stub instead of Big Baby, and he pretty much earned the right to change the way people look at him and speak of him by powering the Boston Celtics to a 29-point victory that was never close for the final 2½ quarters.

"He told me before the game: 'Be physical and ferocious, and anything is possible,'"Davis said of his pregame conversation with Garnett, who sat out a one-game suspension for elbowing Quentin Richardson during a fracas near the end of Game 1.

Rivers did not publicly announce his replacement starter until an hour before game time, and when he said it would be Davis instead of Rasheed Wallace, the answer was not so surprising as much as the reasoning behind it.

"Better foot speed. We need that on the floor," Rivers said.

Davis and foot speed in the same sentence?

Up until recently, you'd be more likely to see the words pancake-eating contest or girth or heft lumped together in the same sentence with Davis, who is listed in the Celtics' postseason guide as weighing 295 pounds -- a 6-pound increase over what he supposedly weighed in the preseason, but a whole lot less than what he weighed when he came out of LSU three years ago.

But the quintessential moment when you bore witness to exactly what Rivers was speaking of, foot speed, came early in the third quarter, just before Miami coach Erik Spoelstra appeared to be setting some kind of a postseason record for timeouts taken purely out of frustration.

After Kendrick Perkins blocked a drive by Carlos Arroyo, the fleet-footed fellow who used to resemble a lumbering lump of lard barreled the other way down the court as Boston got out on the break. Receiving a pass with a full head of steam, all defender Michael Beasley could do was foul Davis, who went to the line and knocked down one of his nine made free throws.

One possession later, Davis danced deftly to his left rather than toward the basket when the Heat doubled Rajon Rondo on a pick-and-roll, then received Rondo's pass and buried a 20-footer. Timeout, Spoelstra.

"We looked at it like we had the same lineup that pushed Orlando last season," Pierce said. "We all know what he's capable of. Did I know he'd have 23 and 8? No. But I knew he could come in and fill in capably."

Yet another timeout was called by the NBA's youngest coach just moments later when Ray Allen drained one of his seven 3-pointers, and by then the rout was in full swing as the Heat absorbed a beating they had no chance of recovering from.

That sequence came as part of a 20-5 run to start the third quarter, and combined with the 21-4 run Boston used to close the first half, there was nothing much left to do except stare in wonder at the scoreboard.

Did it really say 71-39 at one point? Yep.

Did it really cause folks to reach for their record books to double-check the mark for fewest points ever in a playoff game (54 by Utah in the 1997 Finals)? Yep.

Did it make Rivers look like a genius for going with the third-year pro, Davis, instead of the 14-year veteran, Wallace?

You didn't even need to see Wallace pick up an instant technical foul to know the answer to that one: Another yep.

"I just think he moves his feet better," Rivers said in elaborating on his decision. "Dwyane Wade alone was involved in 36 pick-and-rolls, and we have to assume he'll be involved in 36 more at least, and we just needed a quicker big. Rasheed in all those pick-and-rolls would be very tough."

The decision looked questionable initially as Jermaine O'Neal had five blocked shots in the first quarter, several of them against Davis, and the period ended in a 23-23 deadlock.

But Davis started the second-quarter offensive onslaught with back-to-back buckets, the second coming on a running hook shot, and the Celtics continued to feed him on the low block, where his girth, power and precision overwhelmed Beasley.

Davis went 4-for-4 from the line in both the first and second quarters and finished 7-of-14 from the field and 9-of-11 from the line for 23 points and eight rebounds, while Allen scored 25 and Pierce and Perkins each had 13. Rondo had a game-high 12 assists.

Boston led by as many as 33, and the coffee tables in Ainge's basement stayed intact.

Whether the same can be said of the Heat's confidence remains to be seen. Garnett will be back on the floor Friday night in Miami, and Ticket Stub will be back on the bench until he is called upon.

And when he is, chances are he'll again be able to demonstrate why Boston's depth and size is so much of a factor in this series -- so much so, in fact, that Little Miss Peanut experienced blissful, peaceful slumber despite being in such close proximity to her extra excitable old man.