Instead of Voicing Frustration, Brandon Bass Stays Humble, Does His Job
Posted by Brian Robb on May 22, 2012
It had been a relatively rocky road for Brandon Bass this postseason prior to Game 5 last night. After getting neutralized by Josh Smith for the majority of the first round series against Atlanta, Doc Rivers had appeared to lose some faith in his starting power forward by opting to go small late in the first four games of the Philadelphia series.
How bad had it gotten for Bass? A guy who had averaged 33.8 minutes per game and 13 ppg in the regular season? Before Game 5, the former LSU star had played a grand total of 13 seconds of a fourth quarter against Philadelphia in Games 1-4 combined. It should also be noted those 14 seconds were at the end of game 4, when Philly had already secured the win. That’s four playoff games where a guy who had been a pretty integral part of the team’s regular season success didn’t even have a chance to see the floor in crunch time. For this entire series, Doc had been sending him out for a few minutes of the third quarter and that was that.
Now, I’m not attacking Doc for this. Besides the fourth quarter of Game 4, all of his decisions involving Bass were defensible. Still, it makes you wonder whether Bass had some frustration brewing heading into last night, a game where the team desparately needed his additional offensive punch and some improved defense to get over the top with Avery Bradley sidelined. After the game, Bass reflected on how he responded to the late-game benchings.
“With the leadership we have on this team,” Bass continued. “These guys encourage you to work hard, get your shots up, and watch more film and I took heed to it. I saw where I was open and I saw where I could be better on defense and it led to me being better tonight.”
And had there been any frustration building up over these past four games with the reduced court time? (just 24 minutes per game this series). The bait was laid out for Bass right there but he didn’t come close to biting.
“I wasn’t really frustrated,” Bass explained. “I trust Doc and his coaching ability. For me, I just stay ready and on a night like tonight, I was able to help.”
So simple, yet so refreshing to hear. And that’s the great thing about this team right now. You have a bunch of guys that know their roles, stay patient, don’t make excuses and don’t show frustration. Bass didn’t get down about his benching, he just took it as a cue to play harder and smarter.
The same goes for Greg Stiemsma last night. While he was spotty on the defensive end at times, the Steamer responded to a DNP-CD in Game 4 with 10 crucial points in Game 5 on 5-of-5 shooting, including eight big points in the first half which helped keep Boston in the game at the time.
Bass and Stiemsma are terrific representatives of the locker room makeover this team experienced in the offseason that is paying extreme dividends now. Instead of dealing with big egos and guys seeking attention, you have players committed to a team concept and also a couple bench guys whose voices are respected and heard in that locker room as Bass explained:
“At half, we were struggling defensively, Doc didn’t think we were playing for each other,” Bass said. “Then Reverend Dooling stepped up and gave us a little sermon and let us know we had to play for each other and in the second half we decided to do it.”
That’s a pretty tough locker room to be heard in, but Keyon is obviously a guy who has that cache. You can’t put a price on that on this kind of veteran team. A guy like Dooling getting through to the likes of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce as well as the younger guys in Bass and Rajon Rondo. That says a lot.
Brandon, like the rest of his teammates, is buying in though. He isn’t getting caught up in individual accolades either. After scoring a season-high 27 points and setting a postseason high for most points scored in a quarter in the NBA this season, Bass was given the opportunity to reflect on the accomplishment.
“I haven’t thought too much about. For me, it’s hard work. My motto is God, grind and greatness and grinding is what got me to this point and it’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
That grinding mantra has been the rallying cry of the Celtics, since they turned around their season at the All-Star Break. And now, thanks to Bass and company they have a chance to ride it into the Eastern Conference Finals.