The Boston Celtics fans and paparazzi have been extremely critical of Celtic forward Brandon Bass this season. After a career year in 2012, Bass signed a three- year contract extension in the offseason with Boston, but he has regressed in every single significant statistic this year, leading many question why the forward has even remained in the starting lineup. However on Monday night, with the Celtics in Utah night to face the Jazz on the second half of a very tough back-to-back, Bass answered his critics by putting together his best game of the season. The forward was more aggressive than he has been in recent memory, throwing in an important 15 points while getting the free throw line seven times and adding two blocked shots. If that is the Brandon Bass that is going to show up every night, then he should remain in the starting lineup for the rest of the year.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Bass' night was that he did it while still struggling with his preferred mid-range jumper. The forward only shot 4-10 and still can't seem to find the range on the shot that he was almost automatic with last season. However, he compensated by putting the ball on the floor and aggressively driving to the basket, which created high quality shots. He he did this against a Utah team that features a highly touted front court of Al Jefferson and . Bass is undersized for an NBA power forward, but he is fast and is very quick leaper. When he lowers his shoulder and drives to the basket, he is a very difficult player to defend. Unfortunately, he just hasn't put the ball on the floor much this year. Normally, when the ball gets thrown to him, and he doesn't have space to take his typical midrange jumper, he simply stands still like a deer in the headlights until he can find someone to pass to. On Monday night, this wasn't the case. If he can create shots off the dribble more consistently then the Celtics should obviously keep him in the starting lineup.
One play in particular stood out from Monday night. The Celtics went without a field goal for almost four minutes to start the fourth quarter, allowing Utah to embark on a 13-2 run. Brandon Bass gave the Cetlics a much-needed basket by driving strong to the hoop, beating Enes Canter off the dribble, and converting an old fashioned three-point play in order to knot the game at 85 with 8:19 to go. At the time the Celtics really looked like the game was getting away from them, but this shot seemed to wake them up and it stayed tight the rest of the way. Once again, if that is the Bass that is going to show up every night, then there is no reason to bench him.
At the same time, it wasn't all good from Bass on Monday. He played a very strong offensive game, and his defense was not noticeably lacking, but it's still hard to accept the mere three rebounds in a team high 41 minutes. He did have some very good moments on the glass though. On one play he did an excellent job sealing off Paul Millsap, allowing Courtney Lee to simply pick a defensive rebound off the floor. He also did a good job of hitting the offensive glass. He was only credited with one offensive rebound, but he kept multiple plays alive, which helped allow the Celtics to have valuable extra possessions. However, we still have not seen him actually focus on the boards for an entire game. He made some nice plays, but there were also way too many moments where he just stood still watching the ball on the rim instead of fighting for position. The Celtics need Bass to attack the boards whenever he is on the floor. He has to have the mindset to go get every rebound. He shows flashes of rebounding skill, but he still has not made it enough of a focus area. He was much better on Monday, but he needs to be more consistent if the Celtics are to start him at power forward each and every night.
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