The Boston Celtics received a huge lift from an unexpected source during their Game 5 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday. That lift came from the 27-point performance of forward Brandon Bass. He scored 18 of those 27 points in the third quarter, as the Celtics went on 10-0 and 12-4 runs to take control of the game.
As a result, Bass—not the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce—could end up being the reason the Celtics have a great chance to advance to the NBA Finals.
The Celtics have had problems scoring the ball all season, and Bass has been no exception during the postseason, averaging only 10.1 points per game before Monday's explosion.
I'm not suggesting that Bass is capable of scoring 27 points every game the rest of the way, but I will suggest that he has the confidence to be a bigger part of the Boston offense the rest of the postseason.
If Brandon Bass continues to contribute, are the Celtics favorites to reach the NBA Finals?
In his first 10 playoff games with the Celtics, Bass missed 51 of the 90 shots he took, including nine consecutive attempts at one point in Game 2. In addition, Bass wasn't giving a great defensive effort, nor was he doing a particularly good job crashing the glass, pulling down only 5.3 boards per game. But, if Bass is involved and contributing, he's just another weapon that opposing teams have to worry about when game-planning for the Celtics.
He's versatile, as he can step out and hit the mid-range shot. He can also cut to the basket and throw down big dunks. By being able to do multiple things well, he actually frees up space for the other Celtics' stars to operate effectively as well.
If Bass can continue to contribute, he rounds out what is quite possibly the best starting five remaining in the Eastern Conference.
With Rajon Rondo at the point, either Avery Bradley or Allen at the 2, Pierce at the 3, Bass at the 4 and Garnett at the 5, this Celtics team is very tough to defend on a nightly basis. Add to that the physical toughness and commitment at the defensive end of the floor, and the Celtics have the chance to reach the NBA Finals no matter who they play.
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers knows on almost a nightly basis that he's going to get an MVP-like performance from Rondo and roughly 50 points a game from the other three starters. But if Bass is contributing, it gives the Celtics another dimension to deal with altogether.
If he does contribute, the Celtics have a good chance to reach the NBA Finals, no matter who they play.