Brandon Bass’ Improved Play in Celtics’ Bigger Lineup

With the return of Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics forward could get more opportunities to drive toward the basket.

With the return of Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass could get more opportunities to drive toward the basket.

Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass has improved his play since Doc Rivers inserted Chris Wilcox in the starting lineup for the 93-92 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 27th.

Over the last eight games, Bass has scored in double figures in seven of those contests. The 108-89 loss to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 31st was the only game where Bass scored just 2 points. During this span, Bass has been more aggressive in taking the ball to the basket when the lane is open. He is knocking down his mid-range jumper consistently.

The most impressive part about Bass’ recent play has been the fact that the team is not calling plays for him. He is scoring with hustle and energy.

During this stretch, Bass has shot 46-of-83 from the floor and is averaging 13.9 points per game with five rebounds.

When Danny Ainge announced that Kevin Garnett would be out for a couple of weeks with inflammation in his ankle, Rivers continued to use a small lineup with Bass as the center. The Celtics got out-worked at home by the Knicks, who employed an equally small lineup with Kenyon Martin as the center. The Knicks had 15 offensive rebounds which led to 29 second chance points that night. On the following night Rivers put in Wilcox with Paul Pierce at the other guard spot alongside Avery Bradley. Jeff Green was used on the wing. Bass poured in 22 points against the Cavaliers.

When Bass hasn’t been shooting well, his game suffers on both ends of the court because he has trouble defending bigger guys in the paint. He became more communicative in the absence of Garnett on the defensive end. The Celtics continued to allow opponents to dominate the paint without Garnett, but Bass had been reluctant to even talk on the defensive side of the floor in the past.

While Bass had shown glimpses such as the 91-79 defeat in Oklahoma City against the Thunder in which he compiled 13 rebounds (including five offensive rebounds). Bass  had yet to maintain consistent efforts until recently.

Since Garnett returned on Sunday against the Washington Wizards, the Celtics starting unit has become even more dangerous. Bradley, Green, Pierce, and Bass were already playing well with the offensively-challenged Wilcox on the floor. With Garnett back, the lane could be open more frequently with Garnett setting up in the high post or taking the other team’s center out of the paint to defend his jump shot. Defensively, the Celtics have their leader back on the floor and they will not allow teams to get as many second and third chances against them. Garnett frees up the other players to get rebounds by just being active on the glass.

If the Celtics are to make a deep run in the postseason, they will need Bass to provide energy on both ends of the court.

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