x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Big Baby's thumb a break for Celtics

This past week, the Boston Celtics' back-up power forward, Glen Davis, broke a thumb while allegedly fighting with an old college teammate.

This past week, the Boston Celtics' back-up power forward, Glen Davis, broke a thumb while allegedly fighting with an old college teammate. Davis's nickname is "Big Baby". How appropriate. While several media outlets have said that this is a bad thing for the Celtics, I happen to think it was a bit of good luck for Boston. I had been wondering how the Celtics' coach, Doc Rivers, would dish out playing time between Davis and the club's new arrival, Rasheed Wallace.

Rivers can thank Davis's former teammate because now he does not have to make a choice. Davis had a marvellous run during last season's play-offs, hitting one game-winning shot after the next. He will also go down in basketball history for having run over a child after making the game-winning shot in the Game Four of the Eastern Conference semi-finals. He was coming into his own as a basketball player and had hoped to sign a big contract extension this past summer.

Then things went off the rails. He pioneered the art of complaining about employers on Twitter, only to then say that the comments were made by an imposter. Eventually he signed a pedestrian - by NBA standards - contract of US$6million (Dh22m) over two years. Davis's behaviour could have seriously affected the Celtics' locker room had he been relegated to playing third-string behind Wallace. Now the injury means he has to rebuild both his fitness and reputation.

Over the past decade or so, Wallace has been one of the best power forwards in the NBA. While much is made of his tendency to get technical fouls, not enough credit is given to his considerable basketball skills. Professor Wayne Winston concluded after much statistical analysis that Wallace was one of the top 10 players in the league. It is extremely hard to make the case that, when healthy, Davis deserves more playing time than Wallace.

So we have a potential great sporting soap opera in the making, although the start of that particular series has been postponed by Davis's thumb injury. I also cannot say I am a big fan of Big Baby's playing style. His shot has no arc, which aggravates me no end, on top of which he cannot jump to save his life. After making those observations, it will not come as a surprise when I say I think the Celtics will do better without Davis.

While he may have been able to give Kevin Garnett a breather from time to time, I am of the opinion that Garnett would rather play than rest himself for the play-offs. The prevailing "rest" theory does not sit well with Garnett's winning personality. The end result of Davis's broken thumb is that Wallace will become part of coach Rivers' core rotation of players. I think the Celtics will be better for it.

Wallace fits perfectly with the existing Celtics. He can defend anyone and he is never looking to force his shot. When he begins to hit his stride playing alongside proven scorers like Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Garnett, Wallace will be the perfect complementary player. Not that one night means anything, but when the Celtic beat the highly rated Cleveland in their season-opener, Wallace had 12 points, three three-pointers, three rebounds, two block shots and was a defensive star.

Fans and coaches may have already have started to forget Davis's play-off successes of last season. gdole@thenational.ae