Celtics

What's with this Baby talk?

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What's with this Baby talk?

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

I can't wrap my brain around Glen Davis right now.

That's actually a pretty good set up for a joke (I know Doc would take the bait), but this is no laughing matter. This is serious, like KG's face as it's being smashed into the basket support.

I'm sitting here trying to understand why Big Baby said what he did at Celtics Media Day. What he meant. Where his motives lie. And nothing really makes sense.

You know that dizzy, helpless feeling you get after you've spent too much time trying to piece together the plots of the Back to the Future trilogy? (Oh, that's just me?) OK, well, it's beyond frustrating, and that's where I'm at.

Most of the confusion actually stems from a conversation I had with Davis about 10 minutes before the quotes that got all the attention, so before we get to the controversial statement, here's what happened before the cameras arrived and Davis went off.

The question was about his jump shot, which was deadly down the stretch in 2009 but disappeared entirely last season. It's not that Davis lost his touch either; he was just never in a position to use it. But with the addition of Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal, you'd expect this year to be different, so I wanted to know, despite his year-long sabbatical, if he had the jumper ready to go.

"Most definitely," he said. "That was one of my most focal points this summer. Last year, with the addition of Rasheed Wallace I had to go to the five position, but this year we have power at the five position and a lot of guys that can play the forward spots, so I can go back to my natural position where, the year Kevin went out, I really found a groove."

He was upbeat and optimistic, and I didn't blame him.

Last year was a tough one for Davis. He'd found success in this league one way, but the Celtics didn't need that player anymore. They needed him on the block, and for the most part, at least publicly, he never spoke out. He stayed quiet (except for that night in Detroit), sucked it up (not going to make joke about that night in Detroit), and to his credit did a great job. He embraced the change, crashed the boards and probably played harder on a nightly basis than anyone on that team.

But by the end of the season, his frustration was clearly mounting. For some reason, I always remember something Davis said before Game Seven of the Finals in L.A. Perk had already been ruled out, and, whether or not Baby started, he was still in line for a big bump in playing time.

When asked how he'd approach this opportunity, Davis said:

"I'm not a threat out there. And I know I can be a threat. I know what kind of player I am. The Lakers know what kind of player I am, but they really haven't seen me. I haven't hit a lot of jumpers this series. I have hit a lot of jumpers this year. But I can hit an open jumper, and they're giving it to me. I'm gonna be real aggressive. I'm either gonna be aggressive and Doc pulls me out of the game because I'm being too aggressive or I'm gonna be aggressive and hit my shots. I'm not about to sit here, and think about what I should have did. I'm gonna go out do what I should do."

That's a guy who's ready to break out. He felt shackled by his role on last year's team, so in speaking with him on Monday, I wasn't surprised to hear the excitement in his voice as he talked about getting back to his natural position; the place where he found his groove.

I walked around a little bit more, gawked at Shaq for a while, and then left Media Day feeling great about Glen Davis.

Happy. Motivated. Focused.

I got home, and turned on my computer to this:

"I gotta find out what my role is.," Davis told reporters when asked about the O'Neal effect. "With Rasheed last year, I had to become a center. Now? I don't know. Do I become a power forward? Do I go back to playing the 4? We'll see.

"It's difficult because, as a player, you kind of don't understand where the organization is going or what they are doing. No matter what I do I can play great it's still not enough. I'm just here to help the team wherever possible, any way I can. Whenever I find my role, I'll do it to the max, the only way I can."

I don't know. There's so much that doesn't make sense.

First of all, forget for a second that Davis actually does know his role and consider if there's really any question to begin with. Given the roster, how else would he fit in on this team? And given the circumstances, how else should the Celtics have handled the past few seasons? It's not like they asked him to move to center in 2009 and then backup point guard in 2010. He's a power forward who was asked to play center for one season and now, a year later, is being moved back to his natural position. It's that simple. Davis is a role player. That's the way it works. And the truth is, it doesn't matter what position Davis is playing, his role is always the same: Come off the bench and bring energy and rebounding. Sure, there will be times where you are expected to hit some jump shots other times, when you're not. But that's always second priority at best.

OK, now remember that Davis actually does know and understand his role, and ask yourself: "Why did he say it?" Your guess is as good as mine.

Maybe this was just a "Randy Moss at the Podium" moment. Maybe Davis has a lot of pent-up feelings from last season that festered over the summer, and he wanted to get them all out before the season got underway. Like Randy, maybe he got going on an emotional topic, couldn't stop himself and ended up saying way too much, or maybe, like Randy, Baby's just feeling under appreciated and wants a little love. Maybe he's worried about not having a firm identity as he heads into free agency next summer (although, versatile big man has a nice ring to it). Or maybe, as Doc Rivers implied, Davis just likes people talking about him.

If so, mission accomplished. But there's one more far important mission, if he chooses to accept it, on the horizon for Davis this year.

Just play basketball.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE