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Dan Shaughnessy

Davis really had opposition rattled

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / April 21, 2010

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The Celtics were without Kevin Garnett. KG was sitting out a one-game suspension in the wake of his careless elbow during the mayhem of the final minute of Game 1 against the Heat.

No problem. In the proud tradition of Frank Ramsey, John Havlicek, and Kevin McHale, Glen Davis reminded us that he’s good enough to start every night in the NBA. Baby Grande torched the Heat last night, scoring a bull-rush 23 points with eight rebounds in 29 minutes of a too-easy 106-77 Game 2 victory.

Is there really any need to play any more games in this series? Bring on the Cavaliers, people.

It’s true. Boston’s boys of winter are peaking at the most important time of the year. The Causeway Street barn is our April Garden of Eden and the momentum won’t be stopped just because Garnett is suspended for a night. Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

“I just knew that the Big Ticket was out and the Ticket Stub had to fly in today,’’ said Davis. “Whenever they need the Ticket Stub, Glen Davis is here. Big Baby. I’m just worried about playing and getting wins. That’s all that matters to me.’’

Baby/Ticket Stub is only 24 years old. He was drafted by the Sonics and sent to the Celtics with Ray Allen for Boston’s first-round pick. We all got a big laugh that night when GM Danny Ainge said Davis had “a big upside.’’

You betcha. Big backside, too.

It was clear right away that the kid had personality to go along with that tons-of-fun body. Davis made friends fast and was surprisingly effective when he got the chance to contribute off the bench in the magical season of 2007-08.

Last year Garnett made him cry when he yelled at him during a timeout early in the season. By the time the playoffs rolled around, Davis was starting in place of the injured KG. Baby was the hero in Orlando when he hit a buzzer-beating jumper to win Game 4. He averaged 15.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in the 2009 playoffs.

Things bottomed out for Davis on the eve of his third professional season. He was sent to his room after breaking his thumb in a juvenile off-the-court dustup with one of his best friends from back home. The Celtics fined him. It was humiliating. Then he was caught uttering a loud expletive after a fan called him “chubs’’ in Detroit. Then he got a late-game technical late in the season and coach Doc Rivers sat him down.

It took Davis all season to return to the good graces of Rivers and the Celtic fandom. But now Baby is back.

He scored 8 points off the bench in the Celtics’ playoff opener Saturday and he was in the middle of the fracas when Garnett earned the suspension, elbowing Quentin Richardson. KG’s punishment was announced Sunday and early Monday news broke that Baby would get the start in place of KG.

Who else was Doc going to start? Rasheed Wallace?

Sheed is supposed to be Mr. Big Game Playoff Dude, but he was an invisible man Saturday night. Wallace (6 points in 21 minutes of Game 2) is on a fast track to the land of Sidney Wicks. Baby proved to be a much better option.

“Sheed is a bona-fide All-Star,’’ said Davis. “Doc decided to go with me. You can’t worry about that. Rasheed, me, whoever, can play that role and make sure things get done. KG told me before the game to be physical, be ferocious, and that anything is possible.’’

“Honestly, guys, [the decision] wasn’t as tough as you may think,’’ said Rivers. “I was so concerned about their pick and roll game. At one of your bigs you need to have great speed. Baby has great feet.’’

Davis brings tremendous energy to the proceedings and he’s surprisingly nimble. He’s got a nose for the ball, soft hands, and hits the floor with regularity. When Baby crashes onto the parquet, you feel the room swaying. He’s dropped a lot of weight, but he’s still listed at 295 pounds in the Celtics press guide. You be the judge.

“The opportunity was there for me to score and that’s what I did,’’ said Davis. “Ray was hot [Allen scored 25]. I was just out there doing what I was supposed to do.’’

“This was the same lineup we had last year, pushing Orlando to seven games with Glen out there,’’ said captain Paul Pierce. “We all know what he’s capable of. I think with him out there, the chemistry is high.’’

The Heat aren’t much, but the Celtics are playing the kind of D that marked their 2008 championship spring.

“As a team, defensively, we did a great job,’’ said Davis.

“We have respect for him, but that’s a case of one man impacting the game simply with his effort,’’ said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. “I don’t think they ran one play for him. He does all of his work without the ball. He does it by running the floor, sprinting ahead of the crowd. He continues to put heat on you in the paint.

“You cannot let a man’s effort exceed yours. It’s as simple as that. In two games he really has made an impact with his energy and his effort.’’

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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